China AI Policy Targets Global Primacy by 2030(Part II)
By Ben Armour  |  Feb 15, 2022
China AI Policy Targets Global Primacy by 2030(Part II)
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China’s artificial intelligence policy shoots for nothing less than global supremacy by the decade’s end. In this second installment of his two-part essay The Yuan contributor Ben Armour speculates as to whether the country will succeed in its audacious bid to topple the United States and set itself at the top of the AI totem pole or whether this quest will ultimately prove chimerical.

LONDON - One key impediment to China’s avowed goal of becoming the world’s premier artificial intelligence (AI) power by 2030 is a relative dearth of talent. China was home to the second-largest pool of AI scientists and engineers by the end of 2017, some 18,200 people, trailing the US at about 29,000. The country was a mere sixth in its tally of ace AI researchers, however, according to the 2018 China AI Development Report published by Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University.

One major stumbling block is that a good share of China’s AI talent goes abroad to acquire its  expertise and tends to stay there. One effort underway to lure these highly skilled elites home is for AI institutes to offer plush salaries, two to three times those of other professors at the university, e.g., at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at Xi'an Jiaotong University, according to its Founder and Director Zheng Nanning, UK science journal Nature reported in August 2019.

In an effort to redress this shortcoming the country has come out with ‘Several Opinions on “Double-First-Class” Construction of Universities, Promoting Discipline Integration and Accelerating Postgraduate Training in the Field of Artificial Intelligence’ by the Ministry of Education, National Development and Reform Commission, and Ministry of Finance. 

This document states that “It is an important mission of colleges and universities to cultivate and gather high-level talents with innovative ability and cooperative spirit.” It then notes that “Compared with developed countries, there is still a big gap in the basic theory of AI, original algorithms, high-end chips and ecosystems in China.” It says its mandate is to “promote the construction of "double-first-class" colleg

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