Framing the competition on artificial intelligence between China and the U.S. as an “arms race” is not only wrong — it’s dangerous for American policymaking.
In a new policy essay for New America’s Cybersecurity Initiative, Justin Sherman argues that seeing the competition as an arms race is too winner-takes-all, implying that one country will reap enormous gains from artificial intelligence while the other loses out entirely and faces defeat. This view ignores the important interdependencies and interconnections of American and Chinese AI sectors.
In the essay, titled, Reframing the U.S.-China AI “Arms Race,” Sherman also makes the case that the arms race optic treats AI as a singular phenomenon, when in fact it is much better understood today as a catch-all reference to a number of very different technologies.
Artificial intelligence competition is real and still matters: AI will greatly bolster state power by growing economies and enhancing military capabilities, and it will greatly influence the future world geo-political order as well. But the “arms race” frame is a poorly conceived way to approach American AI development and China’s technological rise, which is why, Sherman argues, American policymakers must reframe their thinking.