The U.S. says it will impose new restrictions on the export of certain Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs overseas, including to China.
The ban is the first one applied under the 2018 law, the Export Control Reform Act or ECRA. This will require the government to examine how it can restrict the export of “emerging technologies essential to the national security of the United States” including AI. Reuters first reported the story of the ban.
The U.S. is generally considered the world’s leader in AI technology. China, however, is emerging as a strong second.
This ban applies only to software that uses neural networks to discover “points of interest” in geospatial imagery; like houses or vehicles.
The ruling that the Bureau of Industry and Security posted, notes that the restriction only applies to software with a graphical user interface. A feature that makes programs easy for non-technical users to operate.
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Reuters also reports that companies need licenses to export such software. This does not apply when the exports are going to Canada.
AI useful to military intelligence
The U.S. had also imposed earlier trade restrictions affecting the AI world. This includes a ban on American firms from doing business with Chinese companies that produce software and hardware that powers AI surveillance.
Experts say environmentalists can use this technology to monitor the spread of wildfires. Also, financial analysts can use it to track the movements of cargo ships out of a port. They can also create a proxy metric for the trading volume using the tech.
The military intelligence is now more dependent on this technology, thus, giving it more importance.
The U.S. is allegedly developing, Sentinel, an AI analytics tool that should highlight “anomalies” in satellite imagery. It might flag troop and missile movements, or suggest areas that human analysts should examine in detail.
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