The U.S. and China are matched overall, but currently each country has a slight advantage in certain fields.
Harnessing the power of AI today—the “electricity” of the twenty-first century—requires four analogous inputs: abundant data, hungry entrepreneurs, AI scientists, and an AI-friendly policy environment in four different areas: internet AI, business AI, perception AI, and autonomous AI. By looking at the relative strengths of China and the United States in these four categories, we can predict the emerging balance of power in the AI world order.
Internet AI and business AI are already all around us, reshaping our digital and financial worlds in ways we can barely register, but noticeable in such instances where AI replaces paralegals with algorithms, trading stocks, and diagnosing illnesses.
Perception AI is digitizing our physical world, learning to recognize our faces, understand our requests, and “see” the world around us. Autonomous AI will have the deepest impact on our lives. As self-driving cars take to the streets, autonomous drones take to the skies, and intelligent robots take over factories, they will transform everything from organic farming to highway driving and fast food.
In internet AI, Chinese and American companies are on about equal footing. In five years, Chinese technology companies will have a slight advantage.
In business AI the U.S. leads by far, but China will close that gap a bit in the next five years. There’s no question that China will lag in the corporate world, but it may lead in public services and industries with the potential to leapfrog outdated systems.
Perception AI is finding its way into more pieces of hardware, the entire home will feed into and operate off of the digitized real-world data. Chinese users’ cultural nonchalance about data privacy give it a clear edge in implementation. Today, China’s edge is slight but in five years’ time China is well likely to lead the U.S. and the rest of the world in perception AI.
Today the U.S. has a big lead in Autonomous AI, but in five years the U.S. and China may equally lead the world in self-driving cars, with China having the edge in hardware-intensive applications such as autonomous drones.
AI Superpowers brings you deep inside the thinking of China's remarkable entrepreneurial class, and offers you insights into how Silicon Valley works and how the U.S. interprets China's competitive strengths. AI Superpowers also shows how the market is changing. China and the United States already have an enormous lead over all other countries in artificial intelligence.
We will see developments and breakthroughs from other countries—the United Kingdom, France, and Canada to name a few—have strong AI research labs staffed with great talent, but they lack the venture-capital ecosystem and large user bases to generate the data that will be key to the age of implementation that you find in the U.S. and China.
As AI companies in the United States and China accumulate more data and talent, the virtuous cycle of data-driven improvements is widening their lead to a point where it will become insurmountable. China and the United States are currently incubating the AI giants that will dominate global markets and extract wealth from consumers around the globe. AI Superpowers puts all of this in perspective.
"Kai-Fu Lee's smart analysis on human-AI coexistence is clear-eyed and a must-read. We must look deep within ourselves for the values and wisdom to guide AI's development."
Chairman & CEO Salesforce
"In his brilliant book, Kai-Fu Lee applies his superpowers to predicting the disruptive shifts that will define the AI-powered future and proposes a revolutionary social contract that forges a new synergy between AI and the human heart."
Founder, HuffPost, and founder & CEO, Thrive Global
"Kai-Fu Lee's experience as an AI pioneer, top investor, and cancer survivor has led to this brilliant book about global technology. AI Superpowers gives us a guide to a future that celebrates all the benefits that AI will bring, while cultivating what is unique about our humanity."