AI Chips Key Ingredient for Military Modernization: US
The US wants to restrict AI chips because of its potential usage for military hardware breakthroughs and modernization. With China paying close attention to these “godly chips”, the US is taking measures like controlling exports and limiting intelligence sharing.
China is heavily dependent on foreign suppliers for critical equipment and software at every stage of the value chain. John Calabrese, a US foreign policy expert, says China imports more than $300 billion in semiconductors and relies on equipment from the US. As such, the Asian giant is exposed to US export restrictions.
Washington sees Beijing as a threat, thus decreasing the flow of technology products, services and inputs to and from China. US governments, under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, respectively, have limited and blocked Chinese attempts to acquire US-listed technology companies.
Desperate Need for AI Chips
A report by Tsinghua University stated that the secret behind the rapid development of the AI industry lies in the one and only physical basis – chips. “It is no exaggeration to say ‘No Chip, no AI’ given the irreplaceable role of AI chip as the cornerstone for AI development and its strategic significance.”
The US and Chinese military went on their AI modernization campaign round the same time in 2017, and they both realized the importance and need for AI chips. Moreover, China realized that Chinese companies did not make AI chips and sought to purchase the essential ingredient from the US and develop alternatives (copies) of the chips.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), as per CSET, has made significant progress adopting AI for combat and support functions. China expects AI to usher in the intelligentization of military affairs, characterized by ubiquitous sensor networks, more frequent machine-on-machine engagements, and a faster tempo of operations.
PLA has been sourcing AI chips designed by American companies and manufactured in South Korea and Taiwan. It also buys commercial off-the-shelf AI systems from Chinese academic institutions and private companies, which also buy US-designed chips.
Middle East Supplying to China
Christopher Miller, the author of Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology, said the US believes Chinese companies see Middle Eastern countries as a means of evading restrictions and acquiring access to advanced chips.
He explained that the growing presence of Chinese tech firms like Huawei in the Middle East is driving these concerns.
Furthermore, Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE are heavily investing in AI.
They have also deepened their relations with China. And there’s a noted cooperation between their respective universities and research organizations. The UAE has made significant leaps with its Ministry of Artificial Intelligence and AI model called Falcon.