The Pentagon’s first chief software officer, Nicolas Chaillan, told media outlets after his resignation that the slow pace of technology in the U.S. puts the country at risk. This past fall, Chaillan warned that China is winning the artificial intelligence battle.

He told Reuters, “We have no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years. Right now, it’s already a done deal; it is already over in my opinion. Whether it takes a war or not is kind of anecdotal.”

Whether or now that becomes our reality, at the Multimodal Learning for Earth and Environment (MultiEarth 2022) competition during the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR 2022), Chinese company, Star.Vision Aerospace Group won second place.

Organized by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the MultiEarth 2022 competition focused on using machine learning to address global problems in earth and environmental monitoring such as the decline of the Amazon rainforest. “Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest accounts for the largest share, contributing to reduced biodiversity, habitat loss, and climate change. Since much of the region is difficult to access, satellite remote sensing offers a powerful tool to track changes in the Amazon.” stated the organizers. The workshop aims to gather a wide audience of researchers in academia, industry, and related fields to leverage remote sensing images collected by multiple sensors for positive environmental impact.

The Chinese company won honors in two tracks of the MultiEarth 2022 competition, including the “matrix completion” and “multimodal image translation”, providing a new perspective for long-term monitoring of rainforest changes, and helping resolve frequently encountered “headaches” in optical satellite image acquisition due to dense cloud coverage.

The conference on CVPR is a technical event hosted annually by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Previous winners of championships include tech giants of Google, Alibaba and top research organizations across the world.

Head of Star.Vision’s AI team, Dr. Yashu Kang noted that this is their first time participating in an event like this and they feel even more determined to keep improving their AI technology. Not surprising, as just last year, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence found that China feels the same as Dr. Kang, holding a strong determination to surpass the U.S. with their AI capabilities – especially when it comes to military technology.

But the U.S. has not remained silent in their response. While past and present Pentagon leaders may have their concerns, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) efforts to adapt aren’t to be ignored. And other U.S. defenders point out that this is still the U.S. game to lose, noting that current dominance will only be lost if we get lax. And when it comes to planet-scale problems – like this AI challenge studied, solutions from both competitors could be a win for everyone.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.