Is China Catching up to the US in the Ai Race?
Despite the perceived slowdown in the Chinese economy due to the tariffs imposed by the US Government, Ai spending in China has continued to soar.
The Internet Society of China estimated that in 2020 the Chinese mainland market for Ai research will reach 71 billion yuan ($10.3 billion), up from 50 billion yuan in 2019 and 33.9 billion yuan in 2018. President Xi is very big personal believer in the power of Ai to shift the global balance and has made it a Chinese priority. President Xi said at the Politburo in 2018 that, "China must develop, control and use artificial intelligence (AI) to secure the country’s future in the next technological and industrial revolution." The Chinese government has gone so far as to put out 2030 as the year it expects China to dominate the world's Ai, after becoming the leader in 2025.
Despite the billions China has spent on developing Ai, the US still has an edge according to Oxford researcher Jeffrey Ding. In fact, Ding believes that the US is “ahead in all metrics except the volume of data to which it has access.” However, it is important to note that the US still has more access to a wider variety of data.
After taking multiple variables into account, Ding estimates that Chinese capability is just half the United States when it comes to Ai. In fact, according to a Linkedin research study, the US has 850,000 Ai scientists compared to 50,000 in China.
However, China is mounting a comeback. Its own government as well as private companies such as SenseTime, the world’s most valuable Ai startup, are aiming to improve existing technology that utilizes facial and image recognition to track & monitor people in the country.
While Ai will revolutionize surveillance in the country, it may also undermine a potential shift towards a more democratic China as the technology is capable of identifying dissenters throughout the authoritarian regime.
Written by Albert Daniel Shub, Edited by Alexander Fleiss