Did you know Iran has the very best brains on artificial intelligence? Google it

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL November 10, 2017

On November 1, Google basically questioned the intelligence of anyone who wants to ban artificial intelligence experts from Iran and elsewhere from entering the United States.

Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, was the keynote speaker at a day-long Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit organised by the Center for a New American Security. Mr Schmidt said that some of the world’s best artificial intelligence experts belong to countries that would be affected by US president Donald Trump’s proposed immigration restrictions. “Would you rather have them building AI somewhere else, or here?” he asked. “Iran produces some of the smartest and top computer scientists in the world,” he went on. “I want them here; to be clear: I want them working at Alphabet.”

Mr Schmidt makes an interesting point. The US has benefitted enormously for decades from the skills and ability of people in different parts of the world. It allowed them in, gave them the resources to do their work to a world-beating standard, and then sat back and watched them file patent applications, earn lots of money, and win big prizes.

With their success, the US succeeded.

It’s a no-brainer really.

This will be the case with artificial intelligence too. As the Summit’s organisers explained, the AI revolution has “transformative potential to alter power dynamics, the character of conflict, and strategic stability among nations and private actors.” In order for the United States to anticipate changes and capitalize on opportunities, it needs the very best brains on AI. Google says they are in Iran.

Well then?