February 18th – The BESA Times
Sixty-Fifth Edition - Monday, 18th Every week, a complete snapshot of what happened around the world in the past seven days
China and USA: Competition between AI Superpowers
USA, the inventors of the Artificial Intelligence movement may have an imminent overtake by China, their rival economic superpower.
There is a correlation between technological advances and GDP. Spending money in an economy increasing not only the quantity but the quality of capital, increases the productivity of the economy. The increase in productivity is the gateway to economic growth and GDP prosperity. This increased quality of capital is achieved through research and development – which is the sector China and America compete most fiercely in.
Economic experts predict that China is due to overtake the USA in terms of GDP by 2030. This statement has been regurgitated across the media platforms so many times that it has been taken as a near truth. But what does this near truth mean for the future of Artificial Intelligence?
Data is the lifeblood of Artificial Intelligence and because of apps like WeChat, it is an unbelievably available resource. WeChat is an online space that caters to nearly everything an individual might need, such as booking movie tickets, sending money, instant messaging, video call, playing games, you name it. And the cherry on top? Its monthly active user rate has surpassed a whopping one billion in the third quarter of 2018. One can only begin to imagine the amount of data collected on this app alone.
We are past the era of invention and now in the era of implementation. China proves to dominate this era on several fronts.
The Chinese demographic is much different than the American one. Despite the Chinese GDP prosperity, standard of living is quite low since it is culturally common for Chinese breadwinners to be providing not only for their parents, but for four grandparents as well. As one can imagine, their work ethic is unrivaled to achieve a decent standard of living, thus propelling the tech industry forward.
Another propeller of tech in the Chinese economy: the government works heavily with the technological firms. It ranges from just financial help to pay for the startup costs, to moving whole hoards of residents of an area to make space for a new factory or firm.
Let us not forget that intellectual property in China is not protected, unlike in America, thus creating a cutthroat level of competition between tech firms. While firms in America spend a portion of their financial capital pursuing patents and copyright lawsuits, the Chinese are spending the same financial capital on Research and Development. Clearly, there are several factors that make your job as a tech company just that much more efficient.
Now, let us consider that China does end up winning the technological race and dominates the AI sector. The popularization and eventual accessibility of AI will cause a never-seen-before modern social upheaval. AI has the power to replace hundreds of certified, specialized jobs such as accountants, bankers, actuaries and journalists.
This is a scary thought. Despite this, we know that we cannot go back and reverse time, it is historically impossible, and research will only prosper here on out whether on China or America’s end. The technological boat has sailed weather we account and believe in it or not. And yet, with all the wonders AI can bring to the table and change the way we live our lives, many people will not only lose their ability to find food but to find purpose. Is the longing for a machine-run heaven large enough to justify the social imbalance that will come along with it?
WRITTEN BY SARA SARHAN PLEASE DIRECT ANY INQUIRY TO AS.BESA@UNIBOCCONI.IT
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