In the race of becoming tech dominating country, especially in Artificial Intelligence, China, the world’s largest populace country, wants to lead the world when it comes to AI. 2 years back in 2017, China’s government issued a policy paper and set 2030 as the deadline for this ambitious AI goal. To get there, the country laid out a horde of milestones to reach by 2020, including making significant contributions to fundamental research, being a favoured destination for the world’s brightest talents and having an AI industry that rivals global leaders in the field.
According to a new research study, China’s output of influential AI research papers will soon overtake that of the US, who leads the current world of AI research. The study further suggests that China’s plan to enlarge its AI capabilities with the help of ample government investment in both educational facilities and private industry is paying off.
China, in terms of the sheer volume of AI papers published each year, surpassed America back in 2006, but some critics have pointed out that quantity does not necessarily equal quality. China has well-documented problems with scientific fraud, and in AI there is a stereotype of Chinese research as incremental. For these reasons, some have recommended that counting the sheer number of papers is not necessarily a meaningful metric for AI achievement.
However, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) new research accounts for this by measuring not just the number of papers, but how often they are mentioned, a good shorthand measure for influence in the wider community.
US-China Race in AI
Some observers predicted that if America loses its openness edge, then the country risks pushing AI talents right back into the arms of its competitors, including China. But they also warn that several factors could hinder the nation’s plans, including a lack of contribution to the theories used to create the tools underpinning the field, and a reticence by Chinese companies to invest in the research needed to make fundamental breakthroughs.
There is no uncertainty that China sees AI as one of the critical technologies of today’s digital era and wants to match the United States. AI technologies, on the other hand, promise advances in healthcare, transport, and communications, and the nations that make fundamental innovations in the field are likely to outline its future directions and earn the most benefits.
An analysis of the most-cited AI papers by Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle indicates that China is well on its way to making a significant impact. The country has steadily augmented its share of authorship of the top 10% most-cited papers. In 2018, its share peaked at 26.5%, not far behind the US, whose share was at 29%, and is declining now. If this trend continues, China could not stay longer to overtake the US in this measure next year, the report cited.
China Needs Core Technological Tools of AI
Having the world-leading companies in computer vision, speech recognition and natural language processing, including SenseTime, Unisound, iFLYTEK and Face++, China is still behind in shaping the core technological tools of AI. Also, the country lags in AI hardware, as most of the world’s leading AI-powered semiconductor chips are made by US companies such as Nvidia, Intel, Apple, Google, among others.
According to Zheng Nanning, director of the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at Xi’an Jiaotong University, the country also lacks expertise in designing computing chips that can support advanced AI systems.