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Who Will Lead In The Age Of Artificial Intelligence?

Accelerating trends in artificial intelligence (AI) point to significant geopolitical disruption in the years ahead. Much as mass electrification enabled the rise of the United States and other advanced economies, so AI is poised to reshape the global order. Forecasts suggest that AI will add a massive USD 15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Prospects for sustaining global competitiveness are now directly tied to the industrialization of AI. AI and machine learning are predicted to reshape manufacturing, energy management, urban transportation, agricultural production, labor markets, and financial management. Governments that can successfully cultivate a culture of disruptive innovation will be strategically positioned to lead in the twenty-first century. By contrast, governments that resist AI will find themselves facing a daunting future.

Battle of the titans

At the research level, the United States remains highly invested in AI and other emerging technologies. The National Science Foundation (NSF) currently invests over USD 100 million each year in AI research. DARPA recently announced a USD 2 billion investment in an initiative called AI Next whose goal is advancing contextual and adaptive reasoning. Meanwhile, the US military has created a new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

But where the US has established a strong lead in AI discovery, it is increasingly likely that China may dominate the industrialization of AI. Alongside China’s expertise in factory machinery, electronics, infrastructure, and renewable energy, the country’s government is increasingly focusing on AI leadership.

According to former Google head Kai-Fu Lee, China’s innovation system is nurturing a kind of global economic duopoly that will inevitably force countries around the world to choose sides. Lee would know. After completing his PhD in speech recognition at Carnegie Mellon he went on to lead AI research at Apple, Microsoft Research, and Google China and now oversees venture capital investing in Beijing.―Forbes

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