FBI Director Christopher Wray said he is “deeply concerned” by the Chinese government’s AI program, and argued that China does not play by the same set of rules as the United States.

During a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Wray said that while he is excited about the potential of AI, the actions of foreign countries such as China worry him.

“The Chinese government has a bigger hacking program than any other nation in the world and their AI program is not constrained by the rule of law”, said Wray.

“It is built on top of the massive troves of intellectual property and sensitive data that they’ve stolen over the years and will be used – unless checked – to advance that same hacking program, to advance that same intellectual property theft, to advance the repression that occurs not just back home in mainland China but increasingly is a product that they export around the world,” he continued. “That’s something we’re deeply concerned about, and I think everyone here should be deeply concerned about.”

Wray also explained that AI has been “extremely helpful in improving cyber defense,” but in turn, it also aids cyber offense – such as cyberattacks, malware development, and social engineering.

“There is a degree to which the cat and mouse game that occurs in that in that realm – cyber defense, cybersecurity, and cyber offense – are being critically permeated by the whole AI discussion,” he said.

The FBI director has previously flagged China as a threat to national security. In November, he warned members of Congress that China poses the “greatest long-term threat” to the U.S., especially when it comes to cyber threats.

Additionally, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) flagged China’s push for global power and its growing cyber capabilities in its 2021 Annual Threat Assessment. The report notes China presents “a prolific and effective cyber-espionage threat, possesses substantial cyber-attack capabilities, and presents a growing influence threat.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.