Transhumanist Nationalism and AI Politics

From this ar­ti­cle by Zoltan Ist­van, in re­gards to the loom­ing Global AI Arms race, he says:

As the 2016 US Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date for the Tran­shu­man­ist Party, I don’t mind go­ing out on a limb and say­ing the ob­vi­ous: I also want AI to be­long ex­clu­sively to Amer­ica. Of course, I would hope to share the non­mil­i­tary benefits and wis­dom of a su­per­in­tel­li­gence with the world, as Amer­ica has done for much of the last cen­tury with its ground­break­ing in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy. But can you imag­ine for a mo­ment if AI was de­vel­oped and launched in, let’s say, North Korea, or Iran, or in­creas­ingly au­thor­i­tar­ian Rus­sia? What if an­other na­tional power told that su­per­in­tel­li­gence to break all the se­cret codes and clas­sified ma­te­rial that Amer­ica’s CIA and NSA use for na­tional se­cu­rity? What if this su­per­in­tel­li­gence was told to hack into the main­frame com­put­ers tied to nu­clear war­heads, drones, and other dan­ger­ous weaponry? What if that su­per­in­tel­li­gence was told to over­ride all traf­fic lights, power grids, and wa­ter treat­ment plants in Europe? Or Asia? Or ev­ery­where in the world ex­cept for its own coun­try? The pos­si­ble dan­ger is over­whelming.

Now, to some ex­tent I ex­pect many Amer­i­cans, on re­flec­tion, would at least partly agree with the above state­ment—and that should be con­cern­ing.

Con­sider the is­sue from the per­spec­tive of Rus­sian, Chi­nese (or re­ally any for­eign) read­ers with similar lev­els of na­tional pride.

One equiv­a­lent pos­tion­ally re­flected state­ment from a for­eign per­spec­tive might read like this:

I also want AI to be­long ex­clu­sively to China. Of course, I would hope to share the non­mil­i­tary benefits and wis­dom of a su­per­in­tel­li­gence with the world, as China has done for much of the this cen­tury with its ground­break­ing in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy. But can you imag­ine for a mo­ment if AI was de­vel­oped and launched by, let’s say, the US NSA, or Is­rael, or In­dia? . ..

On a re­lated note, there was an in­ter­est­ing panel re­cently with Robin Li (CEO of Baidu), Bill Gates, and Elon Musk. They spent a lit­tle time dis­cussing AI su­per­in­tel­li­gence. Robin Li men­tioned that his new head of re­search—An­drew Ng—doesn’t be­lieve su­per­in­tel­li­gence is an im­me­di­ate threat. In par­tic­u­lar Ng said: “Wor­ry­ing about AI risk now is like wor­ry­ing about over­pop­u­la­tion on Mars.” Li also men­tioned that he has been ad­vo­cat­ing for a large chi­nese gov­ern­ment in­vest­ment in AI.