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China Overtaking U.S. in Artificial Intelligence

by AFP

File photo. Fabrice Coffrini—AFP

China’s lead in published papers on A.I. highlights growing concerns in Washington and Silicon Valley over Beijing’s lead

China is poised to overtake the United States in artificial intelligence with a surge in academic research on the key technology, an analysis published on Wednesday showed.

The analysis by the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI) showed China has already surpassed the U.S. in published papers on A.I.—although many of these were considered “medium-quality” or “low-quality.” But the researchers said China is likely to top the U.S. in the most-cited 50 percent of papers this year, the most-cited 10 percent of papers next year, and in the top one percent by 2025.

The findings highlight concerns in Washington and Silicon Valley that China is racing ahead of the U.S. in key areas of technology such as autonomous vehicles, virtual reality and fifth-generation wireless networks.

Allen Institute researchers Field Cady and Oren Etzioni said the surge in A.I. investment in China began more than a decade ago, well before the 2017 announcement by Beijing that it planned to become the world leader in the sector by 2030.

“By most measures, China is overtaking the U.S. not just in papers submitted and published, but also in the production of high-impact papers,” the researchers said in a blog post. They added that new U.S. measures that tighten immigration could make it harder for the U.S. to keep up. “Recent U.S. actions that place obstacles to recruiting and retaining foreign students and scholars are likely to exacerbate the trend towards Chinese supremacy in A.I. research,” they wrote.

U.S. think tanks and researchers have recently called on Washington to develop a national A.I. strategy to encourage more work in the private and public sectors on the technology. Last month, President Donald Trump signed an American A.I. Initiative executive order calling for the administration to “devote the full resources of the federal government” to help fuel A.I. innovation, although analysts said it fell short of a comprehensive strategy.

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