As U.S. defenses seemingly attempt to keep up with China’s artificial intelligence (AI) advancements, one policy expert cautioned that technological innovations might lead to great conflict.
"It's good that the Pentagon is finally waking up to the reality of the next war," Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts said on "Mornings with Maria" Wednesday. "Heritage has been constructively critical of the Department of Defense wanting to spend too much money that is being worried about topline defense spending to fight the last war."
The Pentagon has asked Congress that $1.8 billion be allocated towards AI as part of its Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) budget for the fiscal year 2024.
The Defense Department described its higher funding request as a way to make sure it can take advantage of faster decision-making and other capabilities that AI promises.
"Building enduring advantages means that the Department must also continue to innovate and modernize, enabling technical breakthroughs and integrating emerging technologies to strengthen national security and enhance defense capabilities," the Defense Department’s budget request said.
Innovation is exactly what national security experts and policymakers should explore, Roberts argued while noting the U.S. is not currently prepared for this kind of tech warfare.
AI has been seen in action for the first time in military history during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Kyiv’s forces have used AI facial recognition technology to identify Russian troops, and are using U.S.-designed Switchblade drones, which have some autonomous capability, can receive target data from other drones and use feature-recognition technology to complete their missions.
But policy activists like Roberts fear those same tactics could be used by China against America as military and political tensions between the two nations have risen significantly in recent weeks after the Taiwanese president’s visit with U.S. lawmakers.
"The Chinese are going to be the first movers in regulation, which means all international standards will revolve around them," Roberts warned. "This is time for Americans to wake up, in government and outside government, by the way."
Roberts claimed Americans want leaders who will stand up against the Chinese Communist Party, and criticized President Biden for doing everything but that.
"He's too soft. He's simply incompetent. And that's being polite," the Heritage Foundation president said. "It's incumbent upon every member of Congress, whether they're Republican or Democrat, to pass bipartisan legislation. That's what the Chinese understand, and actually, I think that's the kind of thing that can bypass the incompetence of the president of the United States."
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., who helps lead the Senate AI Caucus, said he "welcomes" the additional funding for AI and said spending in this area would need to stay higher than the rate of inflation to keep pace with China.
"Given the urgency of developing the Department’s AI capabilities, I believe AI funding should be above the rate of inflation, something that should apply to defense spending in general," Rounds told Fox News Digital on Tuesday.
Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind contributed to this report.