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Eric Schmidt Advised Caution on China’s AI Industry, Yet Sought Connections

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In Short:

In 2019, the US National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence warned about China’s use of AI for autocratic purposes. Emails reveal former Google CEO Eric Schmidt seeking connections to China’s AI industry. Schmidt’s foundation invested in a fund that supported Chinese tech firms. Schmidt and NSCAI warned about China’s AI advancements. Schmidt’s connections with Chinese tech industry raise concerns about rivalry and interdependence between US and China.

US National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) Expresses Concerns About China’s AI Agenda

In November 2019, the US government’s National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI), chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, raised alarm about China’s use of artificial intelligence to further its autocratic goals.

Controversy Surrounding Eric Schmidt’s Connections to China’s AI Industry

Emails obtained by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) reveal that Schmidt was seeking personal connections with China’s AI industry during a visit to Beijing in 2019. Additionally, a nonprofit foundation led by Schmidt and his wife contributed to a fund that invested in Chinese tech companies, including those in AI.

NSCAI Issues Warning on China’s AI Development

In 2021, the NSCAI reiterated its concerns about China’s AI progress, emphasizing the potential threats it poses to individual liberty worldwide. Schmidt and other key members of the commission raised awareness about China’s AI ambitions.

Complex Relationship Between Schmidt and China

The messages from the email communications shed light on the intricate ties between Schmidt and China, highlighting the delicate balance between rivalry and interdependence in the relations between two global powers.

Investments in Chinese Tech Companies

Tax filings from 2019 show that the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation invested significant funds in a firm that supports Chinese tech companies, including AI startups. This includes investments in companies like Yitu, known for its controversial face recognition technology.

NSCAI’s Recommendations on Digital Democracy

The final NSCAI report discusses initiatives to promote international digital democracy, highlighting the importance of public-private partnerships. It cites firms like Hillhouse as positive examples in developing digital ecosystems.

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