China tech is on a roll – or rather, a dive. The world’s largest Communist nation has announced its plans to set up the first-ever military and science base deep underneath the watery main.
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, the nation’s capital, rose to the presidential challenge from their Paramount Leader, Xi Jinping, to come up with some brand new technology.
Project Hadal is very hush-hush but some information has made it into western news. Its mission is to establish a colony on the South China sea bed – and it will be run entirely by AI (Artificial Intelligence) machines that can be programmed initially and then “learn” from subsequent data collection (“experience”).
The South China Morning Post said researchers are calling the deep sea base the “first artificial intelligence colony on Earth.”
Although the exact location of the high-tech Chinese deep sea base hasn’t been announced, scientists involved with the project say that it is likely to be somewhere in the South China Sea, between 19,685 to 36,100 feet below the water’s surface.
There is one low-tech feature to the ongoing robotic deep sea base: it won’t have WiFi or solar panels in the dark depths of the deepest seas. Power will be supplied by physical cables that connect the facility to a ship or platform.
Docking platforms similar to those used on a space station will allow unmanned subs to deploy on missions of scientific and military discovery. They will collect data about marine lifeforms and mineral samples, all of which will be transported back to the underwater base for analysis.
China is currently full speed ahead with the development of unmanned submarines and is expecting them to be ready early in 2020. This is the same target date for completion of their national credit score system and another testament to the Communist’s desire to control not only their own people but the oceans and the Moon.
The unmanned subs are big, equipped with smart technology, and fairly low-cost for this sort of military/scientific hardware.
Project insiders had revealed that the robotic undersea vessels will be able to prowl around the depths of the world’s oceans to map, perform reconnaissance, place mines, and even commit suicide attacks against enemy vessels.
Unmanned subs will ambush enemy targets by taking up positions at geographical checkpoints that their opponents are expected to pass by. They will scout for manned subs, act as a decoy to draw enemy fire, and reveal where the enemy is. They can also be programmed to commit hari-kari by ramming into a high-value target. (Oops, that was Japanese, so sorry.)
The United States is a primary target for China’s unmanned subs which will be deployed strategically in the South China Sea and the western Pacific Ocean, according to the AI researchers working in the town of Zhuhai in Guangdong province.
Zhuhai boasts the world’s largest testing facility for surface drone boats, another addition to the Chinese AI ocean-going arsenal.
All Chinese unmanned military technology is designed to have these key features:
- No human operators on board
- Able to self-launch, complete assignments, and return to base
- Autonomous AI operation with periodic ground command contact for system updates
That’s the long view. For starters, Chinese crew are working side by side with the new AI systems. Researchers say replacing all humans on board is not the immediate goal. Human commanders on board will make the final decision to attack, at least during these early stages of development.
What makes China’s new submarine tech unique (and formidable) is that they have scaled up dramatically the size of their unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). Smaller UUVs need an assist from another vessel to deploy in case recovery is needed with limited operational range and payload capacity.
But not these hulking AI subs on steroids. The cargo bays can be reconfigured and are spacious enough to load all manner of equipment, be it ordnance (torpedoes or missiles) or high-tech spyware.
Diesel-electric engines and other back-up power sources ensure continuous operation for months at a time.
By their own admission, China’s vision is to dominate the globe – and solar system, it would appear – with bleeding-edge AI tech. The rest of us would do well to pay attention because this oppressive government has the monetary means to get what they want, on time, in budget, and with quality.
In terms of a scientific or military budget, China’s deep sea AI base sounds like a bargain: $160 million (1.1 billion yuan) has been allocated to complete the project. That is half the cost of the FAST radio telescope (the world’s largest), located in southwest China’s Guizhou province.