“This Ain’t a Scene, It’s A(n AI) Arms Race …”

[Many thanks to Fall Out Boy for the inspiration for the headline of this piece …]

In the Remain Relevant course, participants are exposed to a competitive intelligence methodology called PEST (Political, Economic, Social & Technological).  This is a very low-earth-orbit, big-picture scan, looking for trends and events from a broad and distant perspective to identify potential threats & opportunities with as much warning/notice as possible.  It is typically used at the enterprise level, but for the Remain Relevant course it has been re-scoped to the individual level and accordingly leveraged toward benefit.

Keeping a weather eye on AI/automation developments at this grand scale will help us as we strive to identify, develop and hone our skillsets to better adapt to the terrain and survive in the Age of Automation.  Keeping the broad terrain in eye and mind is good … adjusting our perspectives and development paths accordingly is better. 

On the PEST front, a couple of interesting articles have emerged during the past few days:

China is Playing Next-Generation Leapfrog with the West(February 9)

This is a crisp & succinct piece from Axios that provides a summary of the history, challenges & risks posed by China’s foray into AI, robotics & quantum computing.  All of these are, to trot out a shelf-worn (but accurate) term: game changers. 

Quote of Note:

“The West is hobbled by blind spots when it comes to China’s ambitions to dominate next-generation technologies like AI, robotics and quantum computing. This leads to bad assumptions — for example, that U.S. military superiority will carry over into the coming era of autonomous warfare. But experts say its history makes the U.S. uniquely ill suited to navigate this seismic shift.”

Sure, there’s the West … but these technological developments are not lost on Vladimir Putin, either … he has directly stated that whomever wins the AI race will have a globe-dominating position: “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”





Cue Tears for Fears. 

As I’ve said before, this is an arms race.  One may not want to be in it, but one should try to prevail lest others who have contrary values and agendas do so first.  If one isn’t first to seize this particular Iron Throne, one will definitely end up at a significant disadvantage.

Then there’s this piece from Forbes (February 11):

Will Trump’s New Artificial Intelligence Initiative Make The U.S. The World Leader In AI?

Quote of Note:

““… (The) Accelerating America’s Leadership in Artificial Intelligence, “will direct agencies to prioritize AI investments in research and development, increase access to federal data and models for that research and prepare workers to adapt to the era of AI.”

The order has five “pillars,” according to the unnamed official:

1) Research and development (which will ask agencies to increase funding for and specifically report on AI research)

2) Infrastructure (which will encourage information sharing, though potentially run up against issues of privacy)

3) Governance (which will have to be drafted by government agencies and, we can only hope, other civic and academic groups, but at least aims to ensure the safe and ethical use of AI)

4) Workforce (which will support job training and continuing education in computer science)

5) International engagement (which will require collaborating on projects with other countries, without giving them the technological edge the U.S. seeks)”

OK … looks good on paper.  But, when considering the first and fifth pillars above, one can look back to the Axios piece:

By the numbers:

  • The biggest Americaninvestment in AI research comes from DARPA, which has committed to $2 billion in funding over five years.
  • The contours ofChina’s funding aren’t entirely apparent, but what’s clear is that Chinese funding is operating on a completely different order of magnitude. Two provincial governments are planning to invest $15 billion each in AI, and more are likely to follow.”

This narrative is in lock step with a recent FastCompany article that examined the rise of Asia in the 21stcentury. 

The point?  As individuals, we need to remain informed (while consciously avoiding overwhelm) of the big picture so that we can better chart these turbulent waters; from that, we must contextually guide our own developmental arcs that are in alignment with our values and aptitudes.

Do you want to Remain Relevant in the Age of Automation?  If so, please have a look at the FastFulcrum courses that provide the substrate skills needed to do so:


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