AI is rapidly changing how wars are fought. Winners of the AI arms race will become the world’s dominant military powers. Here’s what’s at stake.

Primer CEO Sean Gourley testified at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce AI Commission on July 21, 2022, about the global AI arms race — and what the U.S. and our allies need to do next. Below are his testimony notes. 

“The stakes are high, and the winner of this AI arms race will become the dominant military power in the world. It is a race that we cannot afford to lose.”

-Primer CEO Sean Gourley

Testimony by Primer CEO Sean Gourley 

Thank you Congressmen Ferguson and Delaney, members of the Commission. 

While there is a huge amount of discussion about the impact of AI on our society, the biggest impact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have in the next decade will be in warfare, where advanced AI will fundamentally change the way wars are fought. The impact of AI on warfare will be akin to that of nuclear weapons, where AI is a technology so powerful that the country that wields it will quickly defeat any opponent who does not.  

Artificial intelligence represents what is known as the “third offset,” a set of technological capabilities so advanced that it gives whoever wields them an advantage so large that the opponent without the technology is effectively defeated before a conflict even starts. 

“AI is a technology so powerful that the country that wields it will quickly defeat any opponent who does not.”

-Primer CEO Sean Gourley

The first offset was nuclear weapons, which ended the Second World War. The second offset was stealth weaponry and precision munitions, which resulted in the U.S. defeating the Iraq army — which at the time was the world’s 6th most powerful army — in less than 72 hours during the First Gulf War. The third offset is artificial intelligence. And it will have as profound an impact on warfare as any of the previous two offsets combined. 

This is not a hypothetical discussion about something that might happen in the future. Today, we are already seeing the impact of AI on the battlefield in Ukraine. From computer vision being used with commercial drones to identify camouflaged Russian vehicles, to AI that listens to radio communication and triangulates these with videos from social media to track Russian troop movement and intention in real time, through to AI being deployed in the information war to attempt to manipulate the narrative and win over the enemy population. 

These changes are happening rapidly. But Russia and Ukraine are not widely regarded as AI superpowers – it is China that we need to turn our attention to. 

We need to acknowledge that we are currently in an AI arms race with China. The stakes are high, and the winner of this AI arms race will become the dominant military power in the world. It is a race that we cannot afford to lose. 

The United States and its allies come into this arms race with a considerable set of advantages, but speed is going to determine the winner here — and China is moving fast.

To read more, download the full testimony here.

I have a strange new pandemic ritual. Every Monday, I gather my team of machine learning engineers in a video meeting to kick off the week. But before we get down to business, I use a giant neural network to generate questions that help us go deeper than small talk. We vote on our favorite question and then take turns answering it.

  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  • If you were guaranteed that you would live forever, would you still be afraid of death?
  • What is the number one thing you wish you could change about how people see you?

Those are actual questions the model generated. They indeed lead to deep talk.

We’ve been working remotely at Primer since the earliest days of the pandemic. This ritual is one of our solutions to the problem of feeling disconnected to each other. I can tell you: It really works. 

Here’s how I do it. 

First, I create a prompt consisting of numbered questions. For example:

  1. What is the meaning of life?
  2. If you were the last person on Earth, who would you choose to join you?
  3. What animal would you be for a day?

You can find lists of such questions all over the internet, probably inspired originally by this 2015 New York Times article, 36 questions for a private conversation starter. I find that a list of at least 20 questions works best.

Then I feed this prompt to a big autoregressive language model. I use GPT-J-6B, the open source model created by Eleuther. I just copy-paste the prompt and run the model in Primer’s developer interface. The model’s inference takes about 5 seconds.

Photo credit: John Bohannon, generated with VQGAN+CLIP with the prompt “A beautiful rainbow in the style of van Gogh.”

What comes back is machine-written text that continues where mine left off:

4. What thing would you never let anyone see you do?
5. What color are your dreams?
6. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Yes, these neural networks know how to count. My team uses the numbers to vote for their favorite.

I admit it may seem bizarre to use a machine to help people move beyond small talk and connect. But this is artificial intelligence at its best: Working together with humans to help them do what they do best. 

I generated 365 Deep Talk questions so you can try it yourself.

Natural language processing (NLP) automates the work that would previously have required hundreds of researchers. These machines read and write – and they’re changing the future of business.

With NLP, we can now analyze information at machine speed, but with human-level precision. As reading and writing is automated through machine learning, companies are freed up to focus on the challenges that are uniquely human.

Read more here