August 09, 2023

Bill Drexel and Hannah Kelley on Chinese AI

Source: China-Russia Report

CRR: Thank you both for taking the time to share your expertise. Before we dive into things, let’s provide some context. What is artificial intelligence, or AI, and why is it important?

Bill: AI definitions vary widely, but per the Pentagon's definition, it's basically any technology that allows a machine to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence.

Most of what we hear about today is a subsection of AI called Deep Learning, which powers a broad range of systems and allows more sophisticated capabilities like those we see in ChatGPT.

AI is important because it's a general use technology like steam power, electricity, or nuclear power, which means you can apply it to a whole lot of things and it will unlock tremendous economic growth and will open the door to some new military advantages.

Hannah: Building on Bill’s point, AI holds promise for essentially every area of the human experience–from transportation to healthcare to agriculture and climate action, the list goes on. It is both a general use technology, and an enabling technology.

While our piece in Foreign Affairs focused more on the potential for catastrophe in certain contexts and environments, it's also important to highlight the potential promise of AI if harnessed and leveraged in responsible ways. So the stakes are high on both sides of the equation.

AI is also proving to be an increasingly important area for geostrategic competition.

We see this playing out between the United States and China, but even more broadly. Everyone sees it as this revolutionary technology, and naturally, everyone wants to be at the leading edge of that technological revolution.

This can inspire coordination between states, but also exacerbate competition between states.

So it's a revolutionary technology in terms of its technical impact, but also in terms of how it might impact relationships between states.

Read the full interview and more from China-Russia Report.


  • Bill Drexel

    Fellow, Technology and National Security Program

    Bill Drexel is a Fellow for the Technology and National Security Program at CNAS. His work focuses on Sino-American competition, artificial intelligence, and technology as an ...

  • Hannah Kelley

    Former Research Associate, Technology and National Security Program

    Hannah Kelley is a former Research Associate with the Technology and National Security Program at CNAS. Her work at the Center focused on U.S. national technology strategy and...