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Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) discusses the need for new ways to respond to threats from adversaries

A group of representatives from both sides of the aisle have new recommendations for artificial intelligence and combating China. The Future of Defense Task Force advocates for a “whole-of-government” approach to national security. Congressman Michael Waltz (R-FL), a member of the task force, spoke with “Government Matters” about the plan to outpace China.

“I think we’ve never before faced an adversary like we’ve faced in China led by the Chinese Communist Party where we have been so intertwined economically, so dependent on so many things for our modern economy as we’ve faced with China,” he said.

Waltz mentioned this dependence is different than U.S. relations in the past with the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan because the country relies on China for manufacturing, minerals and pharmaceuticals, as well as personal protective equipment.

“We have a real challenge ahead. Some are calling for complete decoupling,” he said. “Regardless of how we move forward, I do think we have to make big efforts to bring those supply chains home.”

The Future of Defense Task Force’s strategy includes 14 recommendations for competing against 21st century adversaries.

Waltz said that while soft power is part of the strategy to combat China, the “whole-of-government” approach the task force envisioned is broader and encompasses not just military and diplomatic strategy, but personal ideals.

“It’s really about a clash of our values,” Waltz said. “This is really about ‘do we want a world not being led by free nations, but by a regime that will set the stage for future generations?’”

Among the task force’s recommendations is a push for innovation in artificial intelligence modeled after the Manhattan Project. The report suggests the Defense Department require every Major Defense Acquisition Program to evaluate at least one artificial intelligence or autonomous solution before funding.

“The Chinese are making massive investments in artificial intelligence. That is going to affect everything from how we deal with cancer, how we deal with future medications, to how we deal with autonomous warfare,” Waltz said.

He said that while the U.S. will always have a human controlling artificial intelligence, the military will need to prepare for combat with an adversary without a human at the realm.

“At some point we can face the decision of ‘how do we go head-to-head with a foe that doesn’t have a human in the loop?’” he said.

Waltz said the United States has already moved to form alliances like the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and has engaged India, Japan and Australia in conversations. Waltz mentioned other countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia have also expressed concern about China’s behavior.

“I do see us moving in a NATO-like structure in Southeast Asia and I think that’s in almost all of the countries’ interests,” he said.  “We have to be able to settle our differences openly and fairly.”

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