The world's second-largest economy, China, is en route to achieving great things in the next decade and a half. Projections suggest that by 2032, the Chinese Republic will overtake the United States and become the largest economy in the world. This is a far cry from the China of the '70s before which it was a largely agrarian society. After the introduction of economic reforms in 1978 by Deng Xiaoping and the reopening of Shanghai Stock Market in 1990, China evolved into an industrial powerhouse and its economy started expanding at a brisk pace, averaging growth rates of nearly 10 per cent for almost three decades. Though the benefits of growth in GDP did trickle down to the public as wages and subsequently living standards received a considerable bump, it was largely the Communist Party-controlled state machinery and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) that enjoyed the fruits of China's meteoric growth.
China has recently announced their long-term goal to become #1 in A.I. by 2030. They plan to grow their A.I. industry to over $22 billion by 2020, $59 billion by 2025 and $150 billion by 2030. They did this same type of long-term strategic planning for robotics – to make it an in-country industry and to transform the country from a low-cost labor source to a high-tech manufacturing resource, and it's working. With this major strategic long-term push into A.I., China is looking to rival U.S. market leaders such as Alphabet/Google, Apple, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft. China is keen not to be left behind in a technology that is increasingly pivotal -- from online commerce to self-driving vehicles, energy, and consumer products.
The primary thrust among global commentators last week was on dissecting and analysing the State of the Union address delivered by President Donald Trump. He tried to reach out to an American public exhausted by divisive politics and a waning faith in the American dream. The general sense was that it was a half-hearted call for unity. The focus of this column is on a global disruption in technology that is having a major impact on national and international security thinking, the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the 21st Century.
Dr Soren Schwertfeger finished his post-doctorate research on autonomous robots in Germany and seemed set to continue his work in Europe or the United States, where artificial intelligence was pioneered and established. Instead, he went to China. "You couldn't have started a lab like mine elsewhere," Dr Schwertfeger said. The balance of power in technology is shifting. China, which for years watched enviously as the West invented the software and the chips powering today's digital age, has become a major player in artificial intelligence, what some think may be the most important technology of the future.