Attorney General William Barr said today that China had plans to “dominate the world’s digital infrastructure,” calling artificial intelligence a main part of China’s “drive for technological supremacy.”

“Whichever nation emerges as the global leader in AI will be best positioned to unlock not only its considerable economic potential, but a range of military applications, such as the use of computer vision to gather intelligence,” said Barr, speaking on July 16 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Barr’s lengthy speech on China policy comes in the same week that the Department of State imposed visa restrictions on certain employees of Chinese technology companies and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the United Kingdom for their decision to ban the China-based company Huawei’s equipment from 5G wireless networks.

Barr referenced China’s “Digital Silk Road” initiative to build the next generation of global telecommunications networks, but called China’s plans to surpass the United States in AI “less widely known.” He said China’s interest in AI “accelerated in 2016” and mentioned China’s “Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Plan,” a strategy released in 2017 to lead the world in AI by 2030.

The Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is looking to include the department’s AI ethical principles into its AI projects.

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Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.