Conference Papers  |  ,   |  February 25, 2018

An AI Race for Strategic Advantage: Rhetoric and Risks

Peer-reviewed conference paper by Stephen Cave, Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh.
Presented at the 2018 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society.


The rhetoric of the race for strategic advantage is increasingly being used with regard to the development of artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes in a military context, but also more broadly. This rhetoric also reflects real shifts in strategy, as industry research groups compete for a limited pool of talented researchers, and nation states such as China announce ambitious goals for global leadership in AI. This paper assesses the potential risks of the AI race narrative and of an actual competitive race to develop AI, such as incentivising corner-cutting on safety and governance, or increasing the risk of conflict. It explores the role of the research community in responding to these risks. And it briefly explores alternative ways in which the rush to develop powerful AI could be framed so as instead to foster collaboration and responsible progress.

This paper jointly won Best Paper Award (sponsored by the Partnership on AI) at the conference.