Igor Kutyaev/Getty Images

DIA's New China Mission Group Will Track the Threat Posed by AI Development

The Defense Intelligence Agency’s China Mission Group will be monitoring the country’s use of AI software and other technologies in a national security context.

Improved defense intelligence collection and analysis of emerging technologies will rely on forming new partnerships between government and industry, according to leadership at the Defense Intelligence Agency.  

Doug Wade, the head of the DIA’s China Mission Group, spoke during a Tuesday media discussion about his agency’s effort to bring together the best of industry to identify specific threats China poses and coordinate responses . 

Among the group’s areas of concern: China’s cyber capabilities and development of artificial intelligence technology. 

“So China is investing heavily right in its AI and ML capabilities,” Wade said. “China's ability to use things like AI to ensure that they have strong…surveillance coverage of citizens, whether they're China citizens or whether they export that technology to other regimes around the world, and then those regimes use it to exert totalitarian control.”

Wade said that this potential exportation of AI technology should be an area of concern as a threat to U.S. national security, as well as to ally nations in Europe.

“I would imagine that they [Europe] should feel a lot of concern about what China is doing, probably primarily on the commercial, intellectual property theft, cyber exploitation [front],” he said. 

He further noted that there is a “growing realization” within the intelligence community that demands a better understanding of how China uses its emerging technology systems in a geopolitical context, including quantum computing. 

“Those are areas I think ripe for partnership with academia,” he said. 

As chief of the China mission group, Wade explained that the team’s goal is to introduce a wide variety of collaboration between DIA and academic and industry partners, a longstanding goal of the Biden administration. 

“DIA needs to partner more effectively with non-traditional partners in the U.S. government, more partnerships with organizations like [Department of] Commerce, industry, as well as more and stronger partnerships with academia and think tanks,” he said. 

The China mission group has also brought on data scientists and engineers to refine the group’s usage of analytics, particularly with large data sources. 

He said that working with more datasets and open source information will probably lead to the implementation of more AI tools into agency operations. 

The CMG’s broader mission is to provide intel on China and its People’s Liberation Army as ongoing global tensions continue to pit the U.S. and its allies against nations like China and Russia.