China will dominate in AI unless the U.S. invests more

China dominating in AI

The United States has dominated AI technology and still is far above many countries. The tech-leading country has just a few years lead on China and fears China will overtake unless the government takes measures. 

Why it matters:

According to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the U.S. is risking its lead in AI. China will overtake if the U.S. fails to invest in AI’s key technologies and fully integrate them with the military. Schmidt also chaired the committee that issued the report.

Driving the news:

After two years of effort, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence has agreed to a 750-page report. Schmidt chaired the commission, including Safra Catz from Oracle, Eric Horvitz from Microsoft and Amazon’s Andy Jassy.

China is becoming a risk on both the economic and military fronts.

According to the report, China has the potential, talent, and intention of surpassing the U.S. as the world’s new leader in AI in the coming years if the U.S. current trends do not change.

China is closing in the number of key AI technologies, including quantum computing, 3D printing, robotics, and 5G.

The Big Picture:

The commission has offered its support for AI use in the military. But on condition that human commanders authorized the AI-guided weapons and must be designed and tested correctly.

  • The commission also showed concerns regarding the difficulty of ensuring other countries follow the standards. Schmidt said that he was comfortable with the U.S. military procedures but not comfortable with other countries as they might not follow the defined rules.
  • Computer vision is where AI technology can help the military now, Schmidt said. He also shared his view that Google’s decision to withdraw from the Defense Department Project Maven to improve its computer vision system was wrong.
  • He added that military leaders are looking forward to having AI systems that can support better decision-making, but that is probably a few years away.
  • Making a difference between the hardware and the algorithms, Schmidt said that it’s much easier to control the hardware’s trade flow than the algorithms. Algorithms are tough to control because they have inevitably spread beyond national borders. 

According to Schmidt, China is already leading in payment technology and face recognition technology. China also has a five-year lead in e-commerce systems and e-payment technology. While the U.S. still is leading when it comes to mass surveillance. 

Bottom line:

Schmidt said competition could be a good thing for innovation, just like the competition between PCs vs. MACs and iOS vs. Android. The important thing is that the White House and Congress need to focus and provide funds to match China’s coming.

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