"China is on its way to surpass us in many, many ways, and they're cleverly run in a way that's different from the way we would ever want to run," says Schmidt, who is currently chair of the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Innovation Advisory Board. "We need to take them seriously. . . The Chinese model is a vision of high-tech authoritarianism." Schmidt points out that, from a purely strategic point of view, China's form of government lends itself to large, single-minded, top-down initiatives. "The Chinese model is . . . "I'm not saluting it, I'm not endorsing it in any way, but I'm telling you to take it seriously . . . it has benefits from the standpoint of the strategic execution." A world where China controls AI and trade might not be a very pretty place to live, Schmidt says. "How would you like it if the majority of all the things that you use during our . . .
"In two years, China will be ahead of the United States in AI (artificial intelligence)," states Denis Barrier, CEO of global venture firm Cathay Innovation. If so, China will largely determine how this technology transforms the world. Today's contest is more than a race for dominance in a new technology -- it's one between authoritarianism and democracy. "AI is the world's next big inflection point," says Ajeet Singh, CEO of ThoughtSpot in Palo Alto. Artificial intelligence is machine learning, which self-learns programmed tasks, using data, and the more it gets, the more learned it becomes.
In April, as Eric Schmidt watched a computer program defeat China's top go player in a ground-breaking match in the Chinese city of Wuzhen, the executive chairman of Google's parent company was struck less by the considerable innovations displayed by human and machine than by the audience: "To me the more interesting thing [was that] all the top computer science people in China had shown up." It showed, Schmidt said, the importance placed on AI development by both the Chinese government and its people, and was a postcard from the future competition for AI dominance. "I'm assuming our [U.S.] lead will continue over the next five years and then that China will catch up extremely quickly," the Google leader told the Center for New American Security's Paul Scharre at the Artificial Intelligence & Global Security Summit on Wednesday. Schmidt doesn't like the term "arms race" to describe the U.S.-Chinese rivalry in artificial intelligence, in part because defining AI as a weapon is limiting at best and flatly inaccurate at worst. But it is a tool that can make one military, company, economy, and even nation much more effective than another.
The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence today released its report today with dozens of recommendations for President Joe Biden, Congress, and business and government leaders. China, the group said, represents the first challenge to U.S. technological dominance that threatens economic and military power for the first time since the end of World War II. The commissioners call for a $40 billion investment to expand and democratize AI research and development a "modest down payment for future breakthroughs", and encourage an attitude toward investment in innovation from policymakers akin that which led to building the interstate highway system in the 1950s. The report recommends several changes that could shape business, tech, and national security. For example, amid a global shortage of semiconductors, the report calls for the United States to stay "two generations ahead" of China in semiconductor manufacturing and suggests a hefty tax credit for semiconductor manufacturers.
The Chinese have a very public, very-deep, extremely well-funded commitment to AI. Air Force General VeraLinn Jamieson says it plainly: "We estimate the total spending on artificial intelligence systems in China in 2017 was $12 billion. We also estimate that it will grow to at least $70 billion by 2020." According to the Obama White House Report in 2016, China publishes more journal articles on deep learning than the US and has increased its number of AI patents by 200%. China is determined to be the world leader in AI by 2030.