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Artificial Intelligence robots set to help China’s foreign policy

Artificial Intelligence (AI) robots will help to shape China’s foreign policy, the South China Morning Post heard yesterday.

Built by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and inspired by the ability of AI to excel in strategic games, a prototype of this machine is already being used by Chinese policymakers.  The AI robot would be able to help to calculate the risk for overseas investment projects, and allegedly detect behaviour that could lead to a terrorist attack or a coup.

“Cutting-edge technology,” a ministry spokesman said last month, “including big data and artificial intelligence, is causing profound changes to the way people work and live. The applications in many industries and sectors are increasing on a daily basis.”

China’s tendency to apply the latest technologies to different aspects of society is well-known. AI-powered surveillance systems are already in place in many police departments to track criminal suspects, and many courts on a national level are using AI to analyse trial evidence and suggest appropriate sentences, with the aim of minimising human errors.

In last year’s annual speech, President Xi said that China should become the world leader in AI by 2025 and that he wanted to make the domestic industry worth $150 billion (£111 billion) by 2030.

Liu Yu, an associate researcher at the Institute of Automation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing who was involved in developing an AI war game system for the People’s Liberation Army, said human diplomats would have difficulty winning a strategic game against AI.

“AI can think many steps ahead of a human. It can think deeply in many possible scenarios and come up with the best strategy.”

AI would be also more impartial that human policymakers. “Human beings can never get rid of the interference of hormones or glucose”, stretched Dr Feng Shuai, senior fellow with the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.

An AI policymaker, on the other hand, would be immune to passion, honour or fear, he said. “It would not even consider the moral factors that conflict with strategic goals,” Feng added.

Despite China’s strive for AI innovation, the researchers behind this new technology said the AI advisor is, at the moment, only a strategic decision support system, and that it will be humans who will make any final decision.


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