China has one of the biggest AI focuses in the world. Discover what’s driving the China artificial intelligence industry today, and how the US can keep up.

The China artificial intelligence market is booming. The country’s government is behind a drive to push the domestic industry towards a $150 billion annual output by 2025. Global projections put the value of the global AI market at $15.7 trillion by 2030. China artificial intelligence efforts are seeking to take a significant cut of that sum.

In this article, I’ll explain how China aims to achieve such lofty goals. And discuss how the US can keep up with this massive growth, and remain competitive.

The Driving Forces Behind China’s Artificial Intelligence Development

As I’ve mentioned, it’s the country’s government – the State Council – which is sitting behind the massive push towards artificial intelligence. It has issued its own guidelines as to how the market will achieve its ambitious growth targets. These include the promotion of trans-boundary research. This means connecting AI up with research in other areas, including psychology and cognitive science. That’s smart. By tying up developments in these areas with AI, there’s room for significant development of theory and practice of this subject at the same time. It will also be linked to heavy investment in not only its companies, but military and government facilities as well. Finally, the State Council want to see the conscious public promotion of the AI economy. Meaning that it wants its companies and branches of government to champion China as a world leader in the space.

Latest Developments in China

Some of the biggest recent news in terms of China artificial intelligence has been its push to replace millions of manufacturing workers with machines. Meanwhile, robots are already working in its court system to answer questions, such as finding legal precedents. Both court visitors and court staff have access to the robots. These are altered to suit local needs, based on the local case loads of different types of legal claim. The state also wants to help ‘moonshot’ projects reach for the stars, as well as investing in start-ups and academic research. Essential to the government’s strategy is the production of an artificial intelligence chip which is 20 times better than Nvidia’s M40 chip. Of course, China isn’t the only nation promoting AI development. Saudi Arabia’s recent declaration of citizenship for an android named ‘Sophia‘ proves that point! In our own homes and even in our pockets, more and more of us are turning to personal assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Netflix’s predictive algorithm has been acclaimed by some – since it actually works – and constantly refines results to reflect previous viewing habits.

How Does the USA Measure Up to China?

Research and development funding of USA-based AI development has faced cuts. The National Science Foundation’s spending on ‘intelligent’ systems will see a 10% slash in its budget, leaving it with about $175 million to toy with each year. Against a backdrop of state-mandated progression, it’s a fair question to ask how the USA can keep up with, or overtake, Chinese development. Well, China is known for keeping secrets. If it decides to guard certain technologies from being exploited for use by businesses, it’s very likely that companies will toe the line than risk being disciplined by the state. And even Premier Li Keqiang has criticized his own nation for being exceptionally bureaucratic. For all the money China throws at the problem if the government decides to retain certain technology – smart surveillance and monitoring tools, for example – for itself, there will be no public progression in that area within China. Or if the use of new tech gets tied up in red tape, that could also hinder progression.

What Can The USA Do?

To keep up with, the USA must be smart. That’s easy to say, but refined thinking and competition may drive an edge in technological development when opposed to socially rigid China. That’s not to say we’re guaranteed an edge – hard work will be absolutely necessary, as will significant private investment. And it is now the job of firms looking to the AI space to secure that investment. No one can predict the future. But with people like Google Brain Team founder Andrew Ng turning their attention to build multi-million venture capital funds, it’s definitely a space people are looking to put their money into.

Speaking of Google, it’s worth mentioning its acquisition DeepMind Technologies at this point. This USA-based business is committed to research and development of AI systems which produce real benefits for society. It has already worked extensively with the UK’s National Health Service to improve diagnostic accuracy and treatment choices. DeepMind is certain that careful use of AI can help humanity overcome its greatest obstacles, which is a mantra many in the industry probably swear by.

As a country, examples like DeepMind show that we’re off to an excellent start on our AI journey. But from a purely financial point of view, it might be reassuring to learn that the USA is currently ahead of China in investment value. There are 1.82 times as many American AI companies than Chinese, with significantly more investment sat behind them. At the same time, contenders a little closer to home mean we’ll have to keep abreast of global changes rather than just focusing on one competitor. Canada, for example, has put $125 million (CAD) into funding to ensure its prosperity in artificial intelligence.

Looking To The Future – How AI Can Transform Your Business

Artificial intelligence is big news for business. Don’t worry about having to hire a robot. There are plenty of ways in which AI is already affecting the business landscape which doesn’t involve robotics. Insurance companies are using AI to quote premiums and manage claims. Many businesses are using AI ‘chatbots’ to help customers find the information they need. And robotics have been a staple of manufacturing industry for a long time now. Plus, hundreds of firms are already using smart systems for analysis purposes. A smart machine can sift through thousands of data points and return relevant and detailed reports in seconds.

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Terence Mills

Terence Mills

As an entrepreneur, marketer, AI pioneer & digital technology specialist, Terence has built eight global enterprises including executive management participation in two public companies, InteliData Technologies and SkyTel Corporation which sold to MCI for $1.8 billion. His ability to harness the power of the internet, AI, and mobile technology to support sound business goals is his secret weapon.