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AI and Great Power Competition | SXSW 2021

Alexander Vindman
Doctoral Candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
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SXSW 2021
March 16, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
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AI and Great Power Competition | SXSW 2021
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About speakers

Alexander Vindman
Doctoral Candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Igor Jablokov
Founder and CEO at Pryon Inc
Michael Kanaan
Author at T-Minus AI
Nate Yohannes
Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft

Alexander Semyon Vindman (born June 6, 1975)is a retired United States Army lieutenant colonel who was the Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council (NSC) until he was reassigned on February 7, 2020. Vindman came to national attention in October 2019 when he testified before the United States Congress regarding the Trump–Ukraine scandal. His testimony provided evidence that resulted in a charge of abuse of power in the impeachment of Donald Trump.

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Igor is the founder and CEO of Pryon, an artificial intelligence (AI) company delivering an enterprise knowledge management platform. Pryon’s natural language processing (NLP) engine ingests and transforms data into experiences that solve critical business challenges. Previously at IBM, Igor grew impatient with the gap between the invention and commercialization of AI, and departed to establish cloud computing pioneer Yap. Five years later, Amazon acquired the company for its AI expertise and machine learning (ML) technology, now embedded in billions of Alexa-powered devices. Igor was subsequently awarded Eisenhower and Truman National Security fellowships to leverage entrepreneurial ecosystems in addressing geopolitical concerns. Igor passionately supports STEM career and educational opportunities. As such, he is a TechStars’ Alexa Accelerator mentor, was a Blackstone NC Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR), and founded a chapter of Global Shapers, a program of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Igor holds a BS degree in Computer Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, where he was named an Outstanding Engineering Alumnus, and an MBA from The University of North Carolina.

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2021 Gold Medal Winner Axiom Best Business Books, Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Books of 2020 Finalist, & 2020 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalist, "T-Minus AI" is available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, and all major retailers! bit.ly/TminusAI

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Empathy meets innovation; facilitating the success of others; personal sacrifice as a committed peer; listening carefully to the heartbeats of people and organizations; and a growth mindset are my pillars to a great career. My values have been forged in the heat of my lived-in experiences, born to refugee parents who faced torture and lived in refugee camps in the Sudan; fleeing to the United States for a better life. Our story is a testament of struggle, hard work,

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About the talk

President Xi Jinping claims China will be the AI world leader by 2025. Russian President Vladimir Putin says whatever country leads in AI will be the ruler of the world. Google’s former Chairman Eric Schmidt warned there is a digital Berlin Wall being erected. The link between AI and great power competition will set the stage for the rest of this century. How will the private and public sector in western democracies work together to survive and thrive? More importantly, how can we create technologies that are authentic to our values? Join experts at the intersection of AI and national security who are on the frontlines of this fight. Gain insights on AI advancements and explore what role you can play in this challenge.

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Hello everyone, and welcome to. What will be an exciting and timely discussion about artificial intelligence Ai? And great power competition. My esteemed colleagues, mr. Igor yablokov. Every time I Colonel, Alexander vindman, my name is Jennifer. And I am honored to be here with you to facilitate this discussion. And the founder of United strategies LLC which in large part, helps public private, and nonprofit institutions, Bill Tech Innovation ecosystems around the world. I am also a Truman National Security project fellow and North Carolina chapter director. It is in this place.

Igor Diablo cough is not only a Truman National Security project and Eisenhower fellow, but he is also the founder and CEO of prion in Enterprise AI company after an early career at IBM he previously, founded, AI Pioneer. Yeah, which was Amazon's first acquisition to create Alexa Lieutenant Colonel during his testimony. In late, 2019 to US Congress on the Trump Ukraine issue. He was the recipient of numerous commendations and awards, including the Purple Heart prior to his retirement mr. Goodman also has a Truman connection

having been featured in last year's annual. National Security conference is one of our keynote speakers. He was formerly director for European Affairs. At the National Security Council is the pritzker military fellow and La Sur Institute at the Walker Institute in a doctoral student at my alarm Johns. Hopkins University School of advanced International Studies Also the author of The forthcoming book here. Right matters gentleman. It's great to see you again. Welcome. Artificial intelligence requires massive, datasets complex, algorithms

cutting-edge microchips, and human Artistry and design. Currently only the wealthiest States and companies are capable of AI Innovation to scale gentleman. Can you briefly introduced AI to our audience and share the broader implications of this technology? Sure, in some ways, it's a misnomer because some how many of us as practitioners would have not called called it artificial intelligence. Because this thing that people expect in an hour while they consume science fiction, is it going to be with us for a long while? And so considerate, smarter

software, that essentially automate the things that we do well as humans, like Vision systems, a speech recognition system similar, like what what this software can do is as accomplished these tasks at scale and so that's four people start thinking about how is that going to affect workforces? How's it going to affect our personal lives? How's it going to affect us at a national and international scale? And as a national security professional, I tend to look at it primarily from its destructive, the destructive nature as a disruptive Force. What is it that

if you do to the United States, from a security perspective, terms of the effects unforeseen effect of emerging technology like social media, as it rolled out, there were unforeseen consequences of cigars in this information and then also how our adversaries will employ a, I specifically for our adversaries, to enhance their control, over their own domestic populations and influence Farm. Barn populations. Thank you both for that great introduction. Can you maybe speak to some of the positives of

of AI and how a I can support economies and countries at the macro-level as well as what some of the negatives and Julie are that we should be looking out for And it's a rabbit hole. That's certainly Rabbit Hole some of the positive. So, you know, when we're working with these Technologies in the IBM Labs, I mean, we actually, you know, you know how to start working on these Technologies for accessibility reasons, right? If you're a blind, guess what? You want to listen to the world around you and these types of Technology help. If you're if you're

blind. I mean it's you get an acoustic environment in order to navigate of the world in and vice-versa. I thought you were able to see more of the world around you and get those the things that people say transcribed to you so that you can read what they're saying. And so it really started with those Origins. I am in many ways to bring those type of Technologies and then people started saying we'll wait, if you can do machine translation and speech recognition and you can start doing other things like recommending out on. The people so that they actually stay

engaged with your Brands longer. While when you started following following that rabbit-hole, it's easy to figure out why some people ended up putting a horn and and hitting gavels at the Capitol. What's interesting from a national security perspective, in a foreign policy respective, there are lots of different applications that you could imagine a very capable language learning function in which you're able to interact with with foreign counterparts. As a diplomat for soldiers, on the battlefield of being able to use those language translation functions

in the nick of time to avoid further enables an operation to avoid a catastrophe. I imagine soldiers at a checkpoint trying to avoid some sort of isolation and having that on hand language capability. Those are those are just a couple of examples for my necklace security perspective. I think there is also a very reasonable view of being able to use these deep learning functions to scour, media and cut out some of the functions that Personnel have to do with the intention. I touched a function is like looking at all the media

from particular country to understand what's going on. When you can have the AI, do the same kind of things that seem kind of activity in the Split Second. It was a deposit ones, I'm sure we'll get it to the negative ones but now there are a lot of positive applications for AI in terms of productivity and efficiency. Yeah, that's what I was thinking. In terms of the macroeconomic level thinking about increased productivity and GDP growth and how that balances in a specially developed countries with who will be harder hit. And I think with that,

let's move to talking about some of those, those big key players. Ultimately it's like any Technology Innovation in the eye is driven by the values of its creators, Chinese president. Xi Jinping. Has declared that within the decade China will lead the world in AI, we have seen Chinese and Russian strengths particularly in their ability to harness massive amounts of data and apply that data to existing AI technology use cases that often times. Go against Western Democratic principles, can you share with us your perspectives on Russia and China has perceived or actual leadership in the eye he

should be around in the US. Segerstrom. I know, I'll start. Applications. I think it's interesting that you started with this phrase of, it's, It's the Creator. It's the implementer that really controls the nature of the technology and we have a very different view of how technology should be used Igor pointed out. The fact that we see it, as it is enhancing the quality of life for individuals are adversaries. Don't necessarily see it anyway. And they see that as a secondary or tertiary benefit for

them, it's a means to enhance control. So for instance, one of the biggest challenges we have is the proliferation of a Chinese. A I enable to technology for surveillance, where they're taking a look at mine Rd populations leaders and John to control their movement identify that particular ethnic group so they could be. But frankly, you know, in the worst-case scenario, arrested and entered and they're also using the same kinds of techniques to identify foreign diplomats, and their minds potentially foreign agents or

intelligence and be able to track their movements. So these are completely different views on you know what, what a technology with implications of a technology are in from my perspective. I think we have an obligation as the leading democracy, the longest living democracy to advocate for a democratic form of artificial intelligence. While our adversaries will look to exploit and develop an undemocratic form of artificial intelligence. And meanwhile in are you sorry people are using that same camera technology to try to control

traffic light. So that when they see a large tractor trailer driving behind a family car, they actually use that computer vision that leave the green light longer because otherwise the families tend to stop and if there was a large vehicle behind them drives a lot of accidents in those intersections, so so look practitioners. That create artificial intelligence are creating a hammer and you give this Hammer to a serial killer and they're going to be bunking people over the head with it. I'll give it to Jimmy Carter's hands and he's going to be building

you Habitat for Humanity with a very same tool. So these These are literally you know, Julius applications for the style of Technologies. Now are they ahead or maybe in terms of being able to efficiently access these large datasets says that if that's true. And there's a lot of creativity, that's that still undiscovered. And and that naturally gravitate towards the advantages that we have is a Melting Pot. Maybe just stressing off a little bit off of Igor. Hear the

I keep coming back to this idea of a disruptive technology something that frankly could reimagine the world we live in a completely different direction. The way the information age and social media technology has has influenced populations and in life and these new technologies as they emerge in the in the u.s. in the west, they tend to emerge organically. They tend to emerge from a place of innovation market-driven forces that allow technology to proliferate where Enhances quality of

life. And also, of course. Benefits, you know, the capital of venture that's under taking it and our adversaries, don't do that. Our adversaries. Use a lot of Financial Resources, state-driven 240 ulterior motives because of these things are so transformative are we should look at him in the way we have at other transformative Technologies. On the face of it might seem like an extreme scenario but there was a public-private partnership with regards to the emergence of nuclear technology because it was transformative in the cost of the consequences of mismanagement. We're so high we should

be thinking about these disruptive Technologies in much the same way what are the potential benefits but also what are the consequences? So we don't overlook their the harmful effects of social media. And the way it rolled out in the ability to leverage this information to take the most extreme elements of society, and I'm pulling together. And we should advocate for some sort of ethical parameters are to, to be able to guide these types of Technologies. Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. And I think the connection between leveraging, massive amounts of data to

flooding social media, which has information is a really interesting one and it's something that is occurring here in the US, as well as the other states looking to influence What's Happening Here in the US as well as in their own countries for micro-targeting right to harvest and data from micro-targeting. I'm in order to fragment populations and increase the volume rest here and wondering if you could speak to some of the friends that we're seeing into and talk about how some of these language models can be use positively, or maybe

you can tell us a little bit about openai gpt-3. Yeah, that's, that's interesting. So, basically hoovered the things that people already created, right? So that, that essentially got computed into this massive language model. I believe it was, it had 175 building parameters but already Google is showing language model that has an order of magnitude greater parameters baked into it as well. The problem is, is baking all the good and all the bad of humanity into this language model as well. So bias is racism, sexism. All are

in there. And I know that there was a themed a Google researcher other was essentially a drafting a paper or on the dangers of of essentially you pulling all of this information into this thing. Now. Keep a look at something like that and call it highly sophisticated. But remember it's is regurgitating think that humans already created and so you know from that standpoint. I'm not I'm not too worried. How did this place? Human creativity from that standpoint. It's a glorified autocomplete, but it makes lots of things possible for incense in certain Reddit forums at the forms

and what have you people already? Created Bob's in order to generate a synthetic data in there and it took a while for people to figure out that it was actually about creating these things and it wasn't human originated. So while it's still relatively early for this form of Technologies, where you can still get a sense and fingerprint of these technologies that use, they're going to become sophisticated enough where you will literally have the fakes a textual representation of defects. Were you won't even know if if somebody is real or not real,

you know, throughout social media or any other Endeavor. I know that the neutering at experiment, right in the past it's like, can you build a computer that can fool a human that? It's it's acting human life. I think the new Turing test is going to be, can you create an AI that essentially can do its own independent, research, and publish a paper? And then defend the fisa. That's where this stuff is going in in, in, in at the scale that it's going to be able to accomplish that. There's going to be lots of innovation, but there is going to be lots

of risk as well. And I'd like to pick up on two topics that that we just put discussed deepfakes and micro-targeting. So there have been a couple of Articles written between effective targeting. This isn't just for an actor is the domestic political actors also do the same thing. But the microfarad micro-targeting of reference into the black population in Southern Florida to suppress their boat. That's that it was conducted effectively built in 2016 and seemingly all of the reports are still coming in in in 20.

Where you had an AI function. That was scouring particular, social media and then providing the kind of messaging that would potentially deter her from, going out to vote in the kinds of numbers that were determined deterministic in Florida. It doesn't take a lot in the margin was 300000 votes, which electorate that's Millions, that's relatively negligible, that's it, you know, half a percent or something of that nature. So that that can be twisted and applied by our adversaries also. And for me what concerns me

is he a deep fake? Smack retarding when you have a protest that has the potential to turn violent like we experienced in January 2021 with the right kind of micro charging the with the right kind of deep fakes, you could really incite a crowd. That's a viola. And that could be used in the United States that can be used in other hot spots around the world and it could really turn into a flash point especially between great powers where the risk of miscalculation and accident is high. But the consequence and

that's latian spiral could be potentially catastrophic. So these are things that we are. Not equally effective are well-equipped to handle this. I'm curious, you know, hearing you talk about that as well as your previous comment about the need for public-private partnership. I'm curious about what competitive Advantage do you think that we can have in the US rooted in values-based Ai? And and what role the US government should play? As we should have balanced Innovation, tivity the technical qualifications and civil

liberties. Yes, I think maybe the right place to start on this or went with kind of the, the basic Western liberal values that which is a protection of individual, light rights and Liberties protections of data. And it's personal information insert regards that the data is owned by the individual instead of a by a government here. We don't quite have it just right and it's somewhere in between those two opt out but when they when they use particular platforms they give up some some of that personal data protection but that's still skews towards our Western

liberal values where our adversaries go in. A completely different between the state has access to individual data and replaces. Frankly, your corruption is is a major factor Russian. You can just, you can buy about just anything because his options endemic and what you have is your recent relatively recent video that Alexei navalny put together about the corruption of a President Putin, this 1.3 billion dollar Palace that he built. All that was accessible open-source and Anna with with

minimal restrictions of being able to pull all that data together. And it's just a very different place to start. Yeah, and I think companies like apple or or are starting at least with the transparency part. So I think people for first need to have awareness and that and I know it in some cases, people say La Cucina modern Generations, you know, they're giving a privacy in exchange for user experience and to be able to share what, you know, with the world, our thoughts and things like that but who's actually jumping to that conclusion, you know. So why are

we allowing political ads? Should children really have access to social media at all? You know, below the age of 18? When it's their most formative years and it's easy for them to be affected by bullying in in the like inside. There's all of these questions that have to be raised and there's going to be some hard discussions, you know between the public sphere in the end in the private sector in, in terms of what at least that looks like in the in the consumer space. Because I know we all know, I agree that the lack of Regulation there has just Essentially put the whole country at risk,

you know, there's no, there's no way to sugarcoat in terms of what ended up happening on the private sector. You know, what's happening with respect to this data into being exchanged back and forth? Now, there are some hopeful signs, right? Because you do see the industry moving towards edge-based Computing, where a lot of this AI, you can get the benefits of AI without exposing, you know, some of your personal details because a lot of that than happens on your mobile device or or devices that home so that you have the smarts. But without the risk

Fundamentally. I'm sorry, I just want to cover this point. I think, fundamentally what we need it to be looking at is as we can see the new technologies and recognize their destructive Natures. We should be building in some, some beans to protect our citizenry. And this is not necessarily A happening, just yet, we may even be a little bit behind the eight-ball. And, although clearly, we're in the first of all, 9 Innings, it was regarding the development of the AI. But we should be looking at a series of laws. I was thinking about

how Isaac asimov's to all of those that did Derek. The robot, not doing harm to demand. As a basic starting point, we should be looking at mitigating the most harmful elements of our technology to make sure that they don't harm our populations to. I know our society's that's just something that Industries not able to do by itself and governments not able to do by yourself but that partnership between the two. Is likely to be effective. It is there a model that exists already out there that you think we should be looking at?

I don't, I don't know if there is a model quite like it. I mean, the closest thing that I came to comes to mind is this idea that in a weird in the, when the nuclear age emerged there had to be a public-private partnership in order to implement that even if the energy use of nuclear power and to me that seems like, you know, that's the kind of partnership. We should be something that's really, you can't have one without the other that kind of close partnership in order to, to mitigate the most harmful elements of AI or whatever. Technology emerges in front of a, I we should be

thinking about it, because they proliferate so quickly, and they have such broad impact on society. Penn and Michael Caine in CSI, Michael Caine and was a chairperson of a i at the Air Force. And he wrote a great time here recently called T minus a. I in there. He reminds us that at the dawn of the Space Race, Eisenhower essentially passed the National Defense Education Act together with our policymakers because you can't have awareness without education. And so I think you do, you know, certainly emanating out of the of

the national AI project office. There needs to be a permeating knowledge at all. Strata including, you know, do you know children? You know how to write? And what have you two units were out our ecosystem? In terms of what this technology means, because we had that transition from agriculture to industrialization. We had industrialisation to Information Age. Now, we have that this transition to the intelligence age and we're just going to get up. We need to get a lot smarter about what it is. Nnn be aware of where it's already being leveraged for and against us and then we can start, you

know, plodding through. Okay, what what problems have we discovered, what Solutions do we need those in the private and public sector, b w, data-sharing Visa V, tamping, down risk, Visa V, you know, circulating the responsibility to those that, you know, that can had certain things off at the pass. We're running out of time. I say thank you. I Jennifer. I appreciate it. Yeah, I think you both. I think it's fantastic for us to end on that note of education and the next generation of technical innovators and

policymakers. And I look forward to seeing what they create under the leadership of people. Like you. Thank you very much.

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Alexander Vindman
Igor Jablokov
Michael Kanaan
Nate Yohannes