The United States risks losing its superiority in semiconductors which are critical to commercial and military success due to its dependence on Taiwanese chipmakers, a congressional commission has concluded.
After a two-year study, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence said the United States needed to build a “resilient national base” for the design and manufacture of semiconductors.
“We are on the verge of losing the cutting edge of the microelectronics that powers our businesses and our military due to our dependence on Taiwan,” said Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive of Google who chairs the commission.
Bob Work, former deputy defense secretary and commission co-chair, said addiction to taiwan was dangerous because of the threat China poses to the country, which Beijing sees as a renegade province.
The work said the United States had a “two generation lead” over China in semiconductor terms, but needed to act quickly to avoid losing that advantage.
“We are 180 kilometers away from going from two generations to come to maybe two generations behind,” said Work, referring to the distance between Taiwan and China. “If China absorbed Taiwan. . . it would really be a competition issue for us.
The White House launched a review of critical supply chains last week that will look in part at semiconductors. Donald Trump has also taken steps to reduce the United States’ dependence on overseas chipmaking, including persuading TSMC, a Taiwanese foundry, to build a factory in Arizona.
The 756 pages report highlighted areas where AI could help the United States and its consumers, but warned that its potential coincided with “a moment of strategic vulnerability” as China invests in cutting-edge technologies.
“Despite our leadership from the private sector and academia in AI, the United States is not prepared for the era to come,” he said. “China is a competitor with the power, talent and ambition to challenge America’s technological leadership, its military superiority, and its larger position in the world.”
The commission said China wanted to compensate for conventional US military superiority by “leaping” to new technology and was “already training AI algorithms in military games designed around real-world scenarios.”
“China is already a peer of AI, and it is technically more advanced in some applications. In the next decade, China could surpass the United States as the world’s AI superpower, ”the commission warned.
The commission said the US government must significantly increase funding for AI research and recommended that the White House create a “Technological Competitiveness Council,” reflecting the decision to create the National Security Council after the second World War.
The commissioners also stressed that America needs to develop more local talent. He said the number of U.S.-born students in AI doctorate programs has not increased over the past three decades.
The report said allowing China to win the AI race would create geopolitical challenges and help it use “techno-authoritarianism” to coerce other countries.
Andrew Moore, head of Google Cloud AI and one of the commissioners, cited surveillance technology as an example of the Chinese threat. “We’re concerned that the Chinese have basically been doing massive experiments on, frankly, very Orwellian technology,” he said.
The Trump administration has put several Chinese companies, including Hikvision, which makes surveillance cameras, on blacklists that prevent American companies from exporting to them and Americans from investing in the groups. China uses facial recognition software in its northwestern Xinjiang region, where more than one million Muslim Uyghurs have been detained in labor camps.
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