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An AI Race for Strategic Advantage: Rhetoric and Risks

Stephen Cave, Seán S ÓhÉigeartaigh

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.

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