Former Pentagon official “not surprised” by Chinese launch, says US running out of time in AI race

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The former US Air Force software chief was “not surprised” by China’s nuclear-capable rocket launch and warned that the United States “was running out of time” to catch up on the launch. race for artificial intelligence against China.

“AI is so important for the future in terms of innovation, but also in terms of weapons, quite frankly,” Nicolas Chaillan told Fox News in an interview.

China’s artificial intelligence and growing technological capabilities are “an existential threat to our children and the children of all our friendly countries,” he added.

Chaillan served as Air Force software director for three years before announcing his resignation last month, criticizing the Pentagon’s low priority on technological innovation upon its release.

China tested two hypersonic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads in August, the Financial Times reported. Such projectiles can fly at over five times the speed of sound – slower than a ballistic missile, but are more difficult to track and stop.

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The Long March-2F Y13 rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft and three astronauts in China's second crewed mission to build its own space station, is launched at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center near Jiuquan, China. Gansu province, China, October 16, 2021.
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The Long March-2F Y13 rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft and three astronauts in China’s second crewed mission to build its own space station, is launched at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center near Jiuquan, China. Gansu province, China, October 16, 2021.
(REUTERS)

The development reportedly surprised US intelligence officials, although the missile missed its target by about two dozen miles.

But Chaillan said he was not surprised by the progress of the Chinese military and suggested that the US military leadership may have more information than they suggest.

“When you watch the launch, it shows the importance of artificial intelligence,” he told Fox News. “These missiles are able to move, have different speeds, and be more difficult to track and target.”

“The best way and probably the only way to successfully defend ourselves against these kinds of attacks will be to use artificial intelligence capabilities,” Chaillan continued.

Chaillan posted a scathing letter on LinkedIn last month when he first announced his resignation. He criticized the lack of agility and accountability of the Defense Ministry.

“While we were wasting time in bureaucracy, our opponents went further,” he wrote.

The growth of the AI ​​industry is exponential due to its aggravating nature, the former Air Force technical officer told Fox News. As China continues to accelerate its development, US agencies trapped behind bureaucratic bureaucracy are moving at a much slower pace, unable to keep up.

He also said the Pentagon is so used to leading on the world stage that officials “get complacent”, allowing others, like China, to outdo them.

Astronauts Ye Guangfu, Zhai Zhigang and Wang Yaping greet each other in a ceremony leading up to the launch of the Long March-2F Y13 rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft and them in China's second crewed mission to build its own space station at the launch of the Jiuquan Center satellite near Jiuquan, Gansu province, China on October 15, 2021. REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Astronauts Ye Guangfu, Zhai Zhigang and Wang Yaping greet each other in a ceremony leading up to the launch of the Long March-2F Y13 rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft and them in China’s second crewed mission to build its own space station at the launch of the Jiuquan Center satellite near Jiuquan, Gansu province, China on October 15, 2021. REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins
(REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

He noted that the military wastes taxpayer dollars on soon-to-be-obsolete hardware and is not investing enough in cybersecurity, technology or AI training.

A number of US departments have been the target of hacking and ransomware attacks in recent years.

In April 2020, the Treasury, Homeland Security, State, and Defense departments were compromised in the SolarWinds cyberattack, which gave hackers remote access to spy on staff’s digital activities for months. The cyberattack on the leading software company infected more than 18,000 customers with undetected malware.

Army News Chief Raj Iyer rejected Chaillan’s assessment that the United States was losing the tech war on China, saying “that is absolutely not true” .

“If you look at both what we have within the Defense Department and the intelligence community, within the federal government and our industrial partners, we have the best AI technology,” Iyer said during of the Association of the US Army 2021 Annual Meeting and Exhibition.

Chaillan responded to the Army IOC’s statement: “Everyone in the department knows that is just not true.”

“You see leaders not only failing to lead, but now sharing misinformation across the industry just to make people feel better about themselves and make us look stronger than we are.” , Chaillan continued. “We are only making the problem worse.”

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BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 1, 2019: DF-17 Dongfeng medium range ballistic missiles equipped with a DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle, involved in a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.  Zoya Rusinova / TASS (Photo by Zoya RusinovaTASS via Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – OCTOBER 1, 2019: DF-17 Dongfeng medium range ballistic missiles equipped with a DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle, involved in a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Zoya Rusinova / TASS (Photo by Zoya RusinovaTASS via Getty Images)
(Photo by Zoya Rusinova TASS via Getty Images)

While the former senior cybersecurity official acknowledged that private sector AI technology is at the forefront of innovation, he said the problem was the government’s lack of adoption of commercial technologies and the lack of partnerships between the two.

“China is able to use all the data from trading companies in their military capabilities because they mandate companies to work with them,” Chaillan said. “We don’t have the luxury, but we don’t need it either.”

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He recommended that the government stop upscaling information so that leaders in America’s tech industry have a better understanding of the threat posed by China.

“It is very important that we stop letting the media and quite frankly the politicians divide us,” Chaillan said. “We must be united. We must be one team, one fight against China. This is the real enemy.”

“We need to stop having Congress asking us to write reports,” he continued. “We need agile, tangible results with very fast turnaround times, and we need to do it now.”

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