With increasing evidence that hackers financed by the Chinese government are pursuing everything from corporate secrets to military weapon designs, the U.S. is launching an investigation into whether the robotics race is under surveillance. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission is recruiting analysts this week for an unclassified study evaluating both China’s current robotics capability and identifying the origin of those abilities. In November, U.S. defense officials noted that China was in the middle of a massive military buildup with some awfully familiar tech.
The group will also determine China’s chances at building a better automaton than the ones the Pentagon is developing. As Defense One notes, attackers linked to the People’s Liberation Army were tied to hacks on QinetiQ specialists between 2007 to 2009. QinetiQ — rumored to be the inspiration behind James Bond’s Q branch gadget masters — specialize in the kind of embedded software and microchips that guide military robots. A Chinese bomb disposal robot publicized in 2012 shared quite a few similarities to the QinetiQ Dragon Runner.
The Pentagon budget remains massive and that — as at least half of the presidential debates have proven — is fine with much of the electorate. What would not be fine with most American taxpayers is that money going towards the creation of military technology for a foreign power. Though China and America are not fighting a war, they are in a number of proxy battles. An arms build-up and serious accusations of spying would do nothing to relieve tensions.