The trade war between the US and China is now spilling over on AI technology. The US has imposed new restrictions under the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA). The act is set to power the US government to restrict the export of certain AI programs overseas, including China. The law is implemented from 6th January 2020, wherein the government will need to examine how to restrict the export of emerging technologies that is essential for the national security of the US.

ECRA was announced in 2018, and many organizations based in the US and other countries feared that the technology development after the knowledge transfer would fall out. It might even make certain development projects stagnant in the country.

The US is considered as the world leader in AI, but China is gaining an edge with its investments. Reuters was the first news portal to report about the restrictions. It said that the restriction applies to software using neural networks, a very key component in machine learning.

Neural networks are used to discover various points of interest in geospatial imagery like houses and vehicles. The restriction, however, is very narrow in nature. It applies only to software with a graphical user interface- a feature that makes it easier for non-technical users to operate.  

If the organization wants to export such software, apart from the one in Canada, it needs to apply for licenses. The US government had earlier imposed restrictions affecting the AI world, banning many of the American firms from doing business with the Chinese companies dealing in software and hardware that power AI surveillance. Organizations are using machine learning to process geospatial imagery, making it easier to sort out various information. Such technology can be used for detecting wildfires or even detect changes in geospatial imagery for certain subjects, but it can be dangerous if used in military purposes like detecting missile or troop movements.