Sam Altman (CEO of OpenAI), Demis Hassabis (CEO of DeepMind), and Eric Schmidt (ex-CEO of Google) have all publicly taken a very hawkish stand in the US-China geopolitical relationship. Western elite in general seem to be moving towards being much more hawkish towards China. They see China as the enemy the West needs to overcome.
China is emerging as the preeminent world superpower, and will likely be a larger economic powerhouse than the US within our lifetimes.
Rather than see this as a competition, the Western elite could and should try to push for collaboration through increased global trade, diplomacy, and mutual respect of territorial and other geopolitical desires. If we haven't had a World War since WW2 because of the proliferation of global trade, then wouldn't it be reasonable to think that a reduction in global trade, as the Chinese economy focuses inwards and the West disengages with it, puts the entire world into an extremely precarious position?
World War, today
A world war fought with modern technology will have catastrophic effects on the lives of regular people, and could be a major x-risk. Military technology progressed very quickly during WW1 and WW2, as government resources were brought to bear upon the problem of killing many people as cost effectively as possible. Modern military technology is extremely outdated, but would very quickly advance if there was a world war. For example, we will likely see lots of killer robots and killer drones: for a few $100, enough to kill 10s-100s of civilians. Cars could be hacked en-masse. Nuclear missiles would target large urban population centres.
Influential tech people
Tech people are starting to gain a lot of influence in national security/defence circles within the US. If you're in tech, and you have peers who are like this, you probably have seen the phenomenon I'm describing. All of the tech people see China as the enemy. China doesn't need to be the enemy! Until now, we've had a great economic relationship: and we should keep it up! The alternative is a large world war.
If you have any friends like that, please talk to them about this and try to convince them to tone it down.
Consider OpenAI. OpenAI thinks it will be able to develop safe AGI and advance Western values. The subtext here is to subjugate the people of China to be ruled by Western values. Doesn't this framing seem to amplify conflict, rather than contain it? If you were the Chinese government, wouldn't this concern you and push you towards responding in kind?
I think EAs should get on the same page that a collaborative US-China relationship is something we should strive for. It's a very important factor in our long term future.
If we can get on the same page about this, it would be great to understand what kinds of work could be pursued by young professionals in this cause area.
Why isn't this view already quite common if it's so obvious? Because internationalism, and the equal value of all human beings is not a universally shared value, especially among the national security elite of the United States. They'd rather see the US do great and the rest of the world suffer, than to see the US fall behind and the rest of the world develop further.
And it seems like our tech friends are starting to go along with this view. I hope we can change their minds.