China losing AI arms race = millennia of humiliation

Definition of “Cold War”: it’s a Cold War when two or more powers are 1) on the brink of a world war and/or 2) on a clear acute trajectory toward (accidentally) starting a world war.

Arguing that there is not a Cold War 2 between the West and China/Russia just because CW2 lacks some of the elements seen in Cold War 1 is making a mistake similar to generals preparing for the last war instead of the next.

Foreign Affairs therefore published an outdated and misleading article by Thomas J. Christensen when printing this (March 24, 2021):

There Will Not Be a New Cold War

We are already in Cold War 2 because of the zero-sum AI arms race which is the main factor in the 4IR (fourth industrial revolution) arms race.

Christensen discusses mostly economic and ideological factors while almost ignoring the AI and 4IR arms race. Though he does write this:

” … Moreover, the race to set the initial standards for 5G around the world has enormous implications for future business transactions, the next generation of industries built on artificial intelligence (AI), and the development of future automated weapons systems.”

“In these limited but important sectors of the economy, competition with China very well might look like a zero-sum, U.S.-Chinese cold war long into the future.”

But Christensen makes the mistake mentioned above when pointing out the differences between today’s great power conflict and Cold War 1:

“The high-tech arena might resemble the military arena since the arms embargo was created in 1989, with the United States trying to do as much as possible to limit Chinese progress in 5G and AI. But even the bilateral struggle between China and the United States over 5G illustrates the low likelihood that the world will become divided into cleanly split economic blocs. Even though most U.S. friends and allies understand the security risks of having a Chinese firm such as Huawei deeply embedded in their communications infrastructure, the United States struggled to get close allies such as the United Kingdom and Germany on board to fully forgo the purchase of Huawei products and services. The United States’ ability to convince like-minded states to exclude Chinese products would quickly decrease if U.S. efforts expanded from boycotting a narrow set of relevant telecommunications technologies clearly linked to national security to boycotting a much broader set of technologies. Any attempt simply to harm the Chinese economy or encourage others to decouple their economies from China’s would fail in the twenty-first century.”

To develop AGI one must train it in all areas and expose it to all types of technologies. It’s therefore in the interest of China to keep its friends close and its enemies closer in order to acquire and access cutting edge 4IR tech. Consequently, it’s no contradiction between the subtle AI arms race and participating in open global markets.

The AI arms race which basically constitutes Cold War 2 is subtle compared to the nuclear arms race of CW1, partly because you can develop AI and many dual-use 4IR technologies in small labs that can’t be located and monitored like atomic weapons and nuclear facilities.

China doesn’t have to spread its ideology to other authoritarian regimes. China doesn’t even have to convince or force these lesser powers to act on its behalf in a proxy war against the West. CCP can just point out something obvious that every foreign minister is aware of already: the balance of power demands that weaker powers act independently or together to stop a dominant power with capabilities that constitute an existential threat to them. If ultra-liberal Big Tech achieves AI supremacy first, it will be an existential threat to all authoritarian regimes, even China and Russia. It will be the third and final wave of liberal imperialism, cf Empire by Niall Ferguson and The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, two books which respectively cover the two first waves.

China and Russia will not be naive and unintelligent when assessing the 4IR balance of power. If the Japanese had known in 1932 that Szilard would the next year discover the nuclear science required to build atomic bombs in 1945, they would have killed him. Similarly, all authoritarian states and many non-state actors may decide to attack ultra-liberal Big Tech on the West Coast of America, without China or Russia having to encourage or support it in any way. These two empires will most likely not get involved directly or indirectly in any proxy war on liberal Big Tech inside the borders of America, because they are nuclear powers knowing that such involvement can trigger WW3. But they will probably not stand in the way of others being willing to take the war to the American coasts.

While other non-Western actors prepare their own independent attacks on liberal Big Tech it’s natural that China will exploit high-functioning and greedy but short-sighted Western psychopathic CEOs who just want money and power now, and the next 25 years, while not caring personally about China becoming the dominant superpower after they are dead or retired.

A 4IR arms race in the middle of Byzantine shadow wars and 4th/5th-generation warfare is so volatile and unpredictable that it can trigger preemptive attacks which again may lead to things spiraling out of control until we have crossed the line and entered WW3. That’s why we are in Cold War 2. To deny this, today, is similar to the globalist world of relative prosperity and free markets in 1914 when politicians, journalists and business people in July did not think that a world war could happen just because of a shot fired in Sarajevo.

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