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Finalists make their pitches to the judges, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Mark Cuban, Chief of Staff of the Air Force David Goldfein, CMSAF Kaleth Wright, and George Steinbrenner IV at the Spark Tank competition at AFA's 2019 Air Warfare Symposium on Feb. 28, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. Staff photo by Mike Tsukamoto.

Even with the most robust manpower, humans just can’t predict the future. Thus, artificial intelligence “is going to change everything,” Shark Tank star and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said on Thursday at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium.

During a Feb. 28 fireside chat with Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Stephen “Seve” Wilson, Cuban said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that AI dominance and global dominance go hand-in-hand was accurate. To underscore this point, he noted that every one of the finalists in the 2019 Spark Tank innovation competition—for which he was a judge—was rooted in mathematics, something Cuban says “AI does better than anything.”

But getting that global edge will require paradigm shifts in American culture and technological ethics, he said.

First, he said, fostering a culture that values critical thinking, prioritizes education across a multitude of disciplines and welcomes a number of opinions will become more critical for the advancement of American AI than programming skills.

“Twenty years from now for my son, who’s 9 [years old], having a military history base will be more important than knowing how to be a programmer … because as AI advances, you want the information that goes into AI to be correct, right, and you want it to be balanced,” he explained.

Additionally, the US must shift its focus from how artificial intelligence can’t be used to how it shouldn’t be used, Cuban said. Unless, and until we do, he continued, “we’re gonna be on the outside looking in—and that’s a problem.”

He also said the rise of the AI age is making data a priceless commodity.

“Data is kind of like the new oil in that, in order for artificial intelligence to succeed, you need data, and the better the data, the better labeled the data, the better opportunity you have for your artificial intelligence to expand into new areas,” he said.

But, he stressed, AI dominance is about more than getting your hands on data, algorithms, and researching artificial intelligence. Processing speeds matter.

And since there are a limited number of countries manufacturing these processors—including Taiwan, which China still interprets as falling within its territory—the US should keep as close an eye on developments in computer processing as it does nukes.

“That’s just as important as keeping track of warheads, because that’s how the battles will be fought.” he said.