July 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. military must develop artificial intelligence ethically and responsibly, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in remarks on Wednesday.
In remarks to the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, he noted that while China intends to be the world's AI leader by 2030, the United States has the same goal but a different approach.
"Beijing already talks about using AI for a range of missions, from surveillance to cyberattacks to autonomous weapons," Austin said.
"We're going to compete to win, but we're going to do it the right way. We're not going to cut corners on safety, security or ethics, and our watchwords are 'responsibility' and 'results,' and we don't believe for a minute that we have to sacrifice one for the other," he said.
"Our use of AI must reinforce our democratic values, protect our rights, ensure our safety and defend our privacy," Austin added.
In March, commission vice chair Robert Work said that the United States lacks an AI strategy in its competition with China.
Work said that the United States is currently the world leader in AI, but noted that China has structured its army, private sector and academia to overtake the United States.
He urged the Pentagon to dedicate 3.4 percent of its budget to AI development.
In his address on Wednesday, Austin noted that over 600 AI projects are in progress within the Defense Department, "significantly more than just a year ago, and that includes the Artificial Intelligence and Data Acceleration initiative, which brings AI to bear on operational data."
Austin also identified Project Salus, a project with the National Guard which uses AI to predict shortages of water, medicine and COVID-19 supplies.
He also noted the Pathfinder Project, which uses AI-derived algorithms to better detect airborne threats from military sensors and available data.
To accomplish the military's AI goals, Austin referred to recruitment and retention of talented people, typically young and not inclined to military service.
"We need to more vigorously recruit talented people and not scare them away," Austin said. "In today's world, in today's department, innovation cannot be an afterthought. It is the ballgame.''