China Is Becoming an AI Superpower

China’s government put out its plan to lead the world in AI by 2030. As Eric Schmidt has explained, “It’s pretty simple. By 2020, they will have caught up. By 2025, they will be better than us. By 2030, they will dominate the industries of AI.” And the figures don’t lie.With a $14 trillion GDP, China is predicted to account for over 35 percent of global economic growth from 2017 to 2019:
This is nearly double the US GDP’s predicted 18 percent. And AI is responsible for a big chunk of that.
PricewaterhouseCoopers recently projected AI’s deployment will add $15.7 trillion to the global GDP by 2030, with China taking home $7 trillion of that total, dwarfing North America’ $3.7 trillion in gains. In 2017, China accounted for 48 percent of the world’s total AI startup funding, compared to America’s 38 percent.
Already, Chinese investments in AI, chips, and electric vehicles have reached an estimated $300 billion. Meanwhile, AI giant Alibaba has unveiled plans to invest $15 billion in international research labs from the US to Israel, with others following suit.
Beijing has now mobilized local government officials around AI entrepreneurship and research, led by billions in guiding funds and VC investments. And behind the scenes, a growing force of driven AI entrepreneurs trains cutting-edge algorithms on some of the largest datasets available to date.
As discussed by Kai-Fu Lee in his soon-to-be-released book AI Superpowers, four main drivers are tipping the balance in China’s favor:
Abundant data
Hungry entrepreneurs empowered by new tools
Growing AI expertise
Mass government funding and support