On Wednesday, American officials revealed that China’s military is currently working on artificial intelligence weapons and technical systems that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hopes to use to boost the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA).
According to a report by the United States Air Force’s China Aerospace Studies Institute, in recent months, the PLA has disclosed work on ChatGPT-like artificial intelligence systems in military writings, showcasing Beijing’s push to make its armed forces the most powerful in the world through AI-powered systems.
The think-tank notes that the PLA is creating AI weapons-based systems in several main areas, including human-machine ties, rapid decision-making, network warfare, cognitive warfare, wartime logistics, space operations, and military training.
Analysts say the technology will create text, video, and images through advanced software and high-speed computing that can mimic human brain creation. The report from the Air Force also noted that the use of AI for human-machine relations is the most critical force multiplier for the PLA.
The report also outlined how the PLA seeks to integrate Chat-GPT-like programs into unmanned combat systems that can rapidly collect and assess information and plan attacks on enemies. Another area being worked on by the PLA includes the production of AI war-fighting tools, which seek to increase the speed and autonomy of war plans and attacks.
PLA authors also wrote that AI would write code and carry out offensive cyberattacks. “Generative AI will be used by hackers to design, write and execute malicious code, build bots and websites to trick users into sharing their information and launch highly targeted social engineering scams and phishing campaigns,” the report read.
The AI technology seeks to create “polymorphic” malware” that can evade network security software. The PLA is also looking to employ non-kinetic means to influence enemy leaders and populations to support PLA military objectives, known as “cognitive warfare,” believing that “ChatGPT will raise the intensity of cognitive warfare to a whole new level.”
Some examples in the report include using AI chatbot software to mimic a senior government official to sow confusion in adversary forces or gain access to sensitive material.
The Chinese military also plans to use AI to improve the PLA’s military logistics in combat via transit routes and autonomously delivering support materials directly and accurately.
The Chinese Aerospace Studies Institute report also found that the PLA seeks to use AI to build and monitor space systems and enhance military training to create more realistic combat scenarios.
One weakness of the Chinese military is a lack of war-fighting experience.
According to researchers, China’s recent implementation of interim regulations for the more than 100 AI providers in Beijing requires all content produced by chatbots to support “socialist core values.” The think-tank did quote two PLA researchers who noted that “ChatGPT is still a black-box model and cannot be guaranteed that it will not generate attacks or even harm users.”
The Chinese government is also worried about the “Frankenstein complex,” where an AI military system achieves some self-awareness that would then produce catastrophic effects for the PLA. The latest efforts by China’s Armed Forces have Pentagon and intelligence officials worried about military confrontation and potential invasion of Taiwan.
Earlier this year, the CIA Director William Burns testified that ChatGPT technology would be used by foreign intelligence services for “compelling spear phishing cyberattacks.”
The Biden administration announced new efforts to restrict exports of advanced computer chips to China over concerns that the chips will assist Beijing’s drive for AI-powered weapons.