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China Eyeing AI Superiority

They aim to lead the pack by 2030.

According to CNBC, China is looking to become a global leader in the realm of AI.

The country presented a national AI plan back in 2017. The plan aims to make China the global leader in AI by the year 2030.

Their goal is not so far-fetched. While the US may lead when it comes to innovation, China outdoes the US in implementation. AI systems require lots of data in order to function as intended. With over a billion citizens and heavy reliance on novel technologies, the population serves as fertile testing grounds for technologies.

"China is betting on AI and investing in AI and deploying AI on a scale no other country is doing," says Abishur Prakash, a futurist and author of books about the effect of artificial intelligence (AI) on geopolitics.

Paving the way in mobile payments

For example, China has successfully implemented mobile payment, which involves paying with your phone instead of cash or card. AliPay and WeChat Pay lead the way when it comes to mobile payments as they cater to a large portion of transactions made in the country with a population of roughly 1.5 billion.

“Cash is dead in China. So are credit cards.” -Rebecca Fannin

China is the home of prominent tech companies including Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.

Government support gives tech a boost

A big factor that works to the country’s advantage is government support. Kai-Fu Lee, chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, pointed out in an interview that “the Chinese government has always been techno-utilitarian, which means when it comes to new technology, it thinks, ‘Let’s get the technology out there. And of course, there will be issues that come up, and let’s course correct as they come up.’ As opposed to the Western countries, which tend to want to debate and resolve issues that may relate to privacy, security, bias, and explainable AI. When there are jobs being affected, the truckers’ union will appeal to the president, asking to slow down the adoption. Whereas, in China, it’s full speed ahead with AI.

An ambitious or overly zealous goal?

Despite the country’s ambitious goals and hefty financial investments, there are some that don’t foresee the country heading the AI race.

One of them is Georg Stieler, managing director of Stieler Enterprise Management Consulting China. Stieler believes that [for AI dominance] "you need an institutional framework and cultural foundations so that many independent actors can coordinate their work. China's still not there yet."

Will China’s strength in implementation be enough to boost them to #1? Only time will tell.

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