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US announces AI software export restrictions for China

Published Jan 23, 2020

A surprising headline, but the restriction is very specific:

the new export ban is extremely narrow. It applies only to software that uses neural networks (a key component in machine learning) to discover “points of interest” in geospatial imagery; things like houses or vehicles. The ruling, posted by the Bureau of Industry and Security, notes that the restriction only applies to software with a graphical user interface — a feature that makes programs easier for non- technical users to operate.

Still, this is probably a marker of change to come. It’s a little odd to think of software as something that can be “exported”, however. Surely this isn’t a ban on shipping discs across a border. Software is downloaded. So, is this a kind of firewall?