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US said to consider limits on Chinese investment in AI

Officials worry that technologies developed in the US could be used to bolster China's military capabilities.

Robot holding a binary code sphere

US officials worry that technologies developed in Silicon Valley could be used to boost China's military capabilities.

Andrzej Wojcicki/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Chinese investors looking to put money into artificial intelligence could soon face greater scrutiny.

The US government is considering limiting Chinese investment in Silicon Valley to guard technologies seen as vital to US national security, Reuters reports. The concern is that technologies developed in the US could be used to bolster China's military capabilities.

Research in AI, a term used for the ability of a machine, computer or system to exhibit humanlike intelligence, has been dominated lately by large tech companies such as Google and Facebook. The goal is to create machines that can perceive their environment and complete a wide array of every day tasks previously performed by humans.

One application of particular interest is autonomous weapons. From unmanned planes to missile defense systems to sentry robots, we've already got military hardware that functions with very little input from a human mind.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas is now drafting legislation that would give the US government far more power to block some technology investments, a Cornyn aide told Reuters.

"Artificial intelligence is one of many leading-edge technologies that China seeks and that has potential military applications," said the Cornyn aide, who declined to be identified.

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