China’s speed using emerging tech for military poses greatest threat: U.S. think tank expert

Lauren Kahn

Lauren Kahn, a research fellow at U.S. think tank the Council on Foreign Relations, spoke to Yomiuri Shimbun Washington Correspondent Hiroshi Tajima about the military use of emerging technologies such as drones and artificial intelligence. The following is excerpted from the interview.

This is a really interesting moment seeing how a lot of emerging technologies, and technologies that are seen as more cutting edge and newer but have been in the works for a while, come to maturity. And we are seeing that happen on the battlefield.

You see drones … a lot in Ukraine. They existed for decades, but because the technology has matured, they are a lot more affordable and accessible.

We are seeing a lot of them used in new and kind of innovative ways. We’re seeing them used as distractions. There was some indication that they might have been used for the sinking of the Moskva warship.

Some people are using commercial drones to identify things. You’re seeing people buying them on behalf of the military with crowdfunding.

When you have a country like Ukraine, which is limited in terms of its resources, in terms of its individuals, having something that you can use from a distance and use repeatedly, they’re showing that that can be really efficient.

Everyone’s worried about China’s AI. They’ve been investing a lot and have a lot of documents on it.

I do think they are uniquely positioned because they have successfully integrated this, really understood that a lot of these technologies are being driven by the private sector.

China has been proving they are pretty adept at being able to create more synergy between the civil and military applications of these technologies, and so have been able to move a lot faster. So that, I would say, is the greatest threat.

Working with allies and partners, the United States has announced a sort of exchange program for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates. Trying to get more people into STEM into government is a real key.