In early September 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin brought artificial intelligence from the labs of Silicon Valley, academia, and the basement of the Pentagon to the forefront of international politics. “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” he said. “It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”
Putin’s remarks reflect a belief, growing in sectors and regions across the world, that advances in artificial intelligence will be critical for the future — in areas as varied as work, society, and military power. Artificial intelligence is a critical element of what Klaus Schwab, head of the World Economic Forum, calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, argues that artificial intelligence is so important to the future of power that the United States needs a national strategy on artificial intelligence, just as it had one for the development of space technology during the Cold War. Elon Musk, the head of Tesla and SpaceX, has even said that growth in artificial intelligence technology, left unchecked, could risk sparking World War III. These statements suggest that artificial intelligence will have a large and potentially deterministic influence on global politics and the balance of power.
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