Toronto universities risk developing Beijing weapons technology: Intelligence report
Study led by US Air Force intelligence veteran finds University of Toronto and Ontario schools frequently collaborate in People's Liberation Army-affiliated research
The University of Toronto is deeply enmeshed in cutting-edge research with the Chinese Communist Party’s top military-affiliated universities, which risks assisting Beijing in developing Artificial Intelligence weapons systems such as robotic soldiers and smart drones, according to a study led by a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer.
The October 2023 study — Navigating Collaborative Waters — uncovered about 200 recent University of Toronto (U of T) collaborations with China’s so-called Seven Sons of National Defense institutions.
These elite civilian universities have direct ties to the People’s Liberation Army, and likely are exploiting Western institutions, intelligence experts warn, harvesting advances especially in Artificial Intelligence, for military as well as civilian applications.
LJ Eads, the study’s lead author, told The Bureau a number of Seven Sons and U of T research projects trigger concerns the Canadian university could inadvertently assist Beijing’s offensive capacities.
"The collaboration between the University of Toronto and PLA and its affiliated institutions is deep-rooted and extensive,” Eads told The Bureau. “This should alarm us all, as it directly impacts national security and raises ethical questions regarding research with clear military applications.”
“More importantly,” he added, “it involves defense research with an adversary."
It’s a point that CSIS director David Vigneault also made weeks ago in a rare public discussion among Five Eyes intelligence bosses.