Just over one year ago, I asked a simple question in The National Interest: What if machine learning—the most famous research paradigm in artificial intelligence (AI) today—is more limited than it seems? I expressed concern that the United States Department of Defense (DoD) could be unprepared for a slowdown or stagnation in AI development (an AI “winter”).

In the intervening period, state-of-the-art capabilities in subfields of AI, the most prominent among which is natural language processing, have dramatically changed. The rise of generative AI, powering applications such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Anthropic’s Claude, and Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion, has led to an endless stream of media coverage on the technology. Generative AI yields seemingly infinite applications; its development has produced a flood of invigorating research and a geopolitical “scramble” of age-defining proportions.

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Photo: Ecole polytechnique / Paris / France

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