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US may restrict China’s artificial intelligence investment in Silicon Valley

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The US has been seeing increasing investment in artificial intelligence companies coming from China in the past years

The US government may heighten scrutiny to Chinese investments in Silicon Valley in order to protect “sensitive technologies” that are seen as vital to the country’s national security, particularly those related to artificial intelligence and machine learning, Reuters reported.

The government will do it by strengthening the role of its inter-agency committee for foreign acquisition review Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

The move was made following an unreleased Pentagon report viewed by Reuters, which warns against China “skirting US oversight and gaining access to sensitive technology through transactions that currently don’t trigger CFIUS review.”

The said transactions include joint ventures, minority stakes, and early-stage startup investments.

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An aide to Senator John Cornyn, who is drafting the legislation, said that artificial intelligence “is one of many leading-edge technologies that China seeks and that has potential military applications.”

“These technologies are so new that our export control system has not yet figured out how to cover them, which is part of the reason they are slipping through the gaps in the existing safeguards,” the aide said.

The US has been seeing increasing investment in artificial intelligence companies coming from China.

Also Read: Now In Shenzhen: This Chinese company is building an artificial intelligence robot using VR

Report from CB Insights tracked 29 investors from the country investing in US artificial intelligence companies since early 2012.

Another report by Rhodium Group also said that China has made the US its top destination for foreign direct investment in 2016, with US$45.6 billion in completed acquisitions and greenfield investments. The number continues to rise as investment from January to May 2017 totaled US$22 billion, a 100 per cent increase against the same period in 2016.

A recent example of such investment is Baidu’s acquisition of xPerception, which specialises in computer vision.

The US itself has been developing Project Maven, an initiative by the military to incorporate elements of artificial intelligence and machine learning into its drone programme.

As for CFIUS, it has recently being called upon by members of the US House of Representatives to conduct a “full and thorough” investigation on Ant Financial’s attempt to acquire MoneyGram.

Image Credit: lightwise / 123RF Stock

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