The world’s first ever underwater Artificial Intelligence colony will be created on the South China sea bed, Chinese President Xi Jinping claims.
The base has been described as a ‘deep sea Atlantis’ and will be used for unmanned submarine science and defence operations.
Chinese officials and scientists familiar with the plans say that the deep sea station will analyse samples from the sea bed and send reports to the surface.
Xi urged the scientists and engineers to ‘dare to do something that has never been done before’ on a recent visit to the deep sea research institute in Hainan Province.
There is no road in the deep sea, we do not need to chase after other countries, we are the road,’ President Xi said.
The project was launched at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and is estimated to cost £124 million ($160m) to build.
Drones such as China’s unmanned submarine vehicle Qianlong III could help to drive a subsea exploration programme and herald the arrival of an AI colony on the South China Sea bed, according to reports.
One location thought to be a possibility for the project is the Manilla trench, located in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines.
The trench reaches a depth of 17,716 ft (5,400m) and one of the world’s biggest quake zones.
One location thought to be a possibility for the project is the Manilla trench, located in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines. The trench reaches a depth of 17,716 ft (5,400m) and one of the world’s biggest quake zones.
‘It is the only place in the South China Sea with a depth exceeding 5,000 metres,’ Xi told the South China Morning Post.
Chemicals from as deep down as the Earth’s mantle are carried up by thermal vents and they ‘could contain geological information’.
Scientists say that China’s unmanned submarine vehicle Qianlong III could help to drive a subsea exploration programme and herald the arrival of an AI colony on the South China Sea bed.
Other scientists are sceptical about the project and think politics and technology will present big challenges.
Project engineers working on the proposed plan say that like a space station, the undersea complex will have docking platforms.
The base will depend on cables connected to a ship or platform for power and communication, its powerful ‘brain’ and sensors will allow it to carry out autonomous missions.
Materials need to be developed to withstand the water pressure at such great depths.
‘It is as challenging as building a colony on another planet for robotic residents with artificial intelligence,’ said a scientist who has taken part in the project.
They say robot submarines will be sent to survey seabeds, record life forms for cataloguing and collect mineral samples.
However, scientists feel that such an ambitious programme could far exceed the estimated cost and they will face massive technological and political hurdles.
The deep sea floor is an extreme environment, where high pressure, erosion, volatile geology and quakes could threaten any structure on the seabed.
Dr Du Qinghai, associate researcher at the Hadal Science and Technology Research Centre at Shanghai Ocean University, said the £124 million ($160m) budget for a deep sea research facility, ‘might be tight’.