BOSTON AND LONDON - The rivalry that has been simmering between China and the United States, the world’s two leaders in developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology, is now nearing the boiling point as the two countries’ lines of battle become drawn ever more clearly in policy documents, white papers, and intelligence bulletins.
The US has advantages such as leading hardware, research, and talent, whereas China has unparalleled masses of AI-ready data at its disposal to drive technological development, a strong will to succeed in its quest for primacy, and a head start in its already widespread deployment and adoption of many digital technologies.
Since 2017, China has been producing more AI scholarly research than the US. But in 2020, for the first time, China also surpassed it in AI-related journal citations, according to last year’s Stanford University AI Index Report.
“Citations measure whether the ideas you’re putting out are novel and have impact - not just that you have a lot of researchers pumping out publications,” said Michael Sellitto, Stanford University Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence deputy director and a member of its AI Index steering committee. “The data suggests that China is making more contributions to basic AI knowledge now, a qualitative improvement,” per the Stanford report.
“I don’t think they’ll be number one, because I think there’s still a level of genius and creativity in Silicon Valley that persists and will always persist,” Breyer Capital founder Jim Breyer told CNBC, likening the two superpowers’ AI rivalry to the US-Soviet space race of the 1950s.
In June 2020, San Francisco-based independent AI research lab OpenAI announced the launch of its GPT-3, the third generation of its massive Generative Pre-trained Transformer language model, which can write computer code, poetry, and everything in between, various media reported at the time.
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