China and the United States have long been engaged in a fierce competition for dominance in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Both countries recognize the potential impact of AI on their economic and power balance, leading to increased efforts to develop and deploy AI technologies. While experts have acknowledged the need for cooperation between the two superpowers, recent developments indicate that the rivalry is only intensifying.
In June, the US received approval to rejoin UNESCO, a move that was seen as opening another front in the US-China rivalry, particularly regarding the establishment of global AI standards. Moreover, US President Joe Biden recently announced plans for fresh restrictions on investments in Chinese entities, including certain artificial intelligence systems, signaling a further escalation of tensions.
The Chinese government has identified AI as one of seven “frontier technologies” to be developed, and the country hosted the annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, showcasing its ambitions in the field. Chinese tech firms have also dedicated significant resources to AI research and development.
Analysts argue that AI has become increasingly important for state power, as it accelerates economic growth and enhances military capabilities. The nation that excels in AI stands to influence global norms and shape the future of world order. For China, AI presents an opportunity to boost its economy by adding over $600 billion in economic value annually.
The US has been allocating substantial funds to AI research, talent acquisition, and semiconductor manufacturing, outspending China in AI investment. However, each country possesses unique competitive advantages in the AI race. China benefits from its large population and fewer constraints on data collection, while the US and its allies excel in advanced semiconductor chip design and manufacturing.
As the rivalry between China and the US continues to heat up, experts anticipate that the US will further increase its efforts to maintain an edge over China. Outbound investment controls on AI start-ups in China and restrictions on access to advanced cloud computing services are expected. Likewise, Washington will likely continue its attempts to limit China’s access to vital inputs such as advanced semiconductors.
It remains to be seen how the AI battle between China and the US will unfold. While cooperation between the two nations is crucial in certain areas, competition in the AI race is inevitable. The rivalry in this emerging field is set to intensify, with profound implications for economic and power dynamics between the two superpowers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is AI?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, and decision-making.
Why are China and the US in a battle over AI?
China and the US recognize the transformative potential of AI and its impact on economic and power balance. Both countries are competing to lead in AI development and deployment, aiming to influence global norms and secure advantages in various sectors.
What advantages does China have in the AI race?
China benefits from a large population, providing a vast amount of data for AI training. The Chinese government also has fewer constraints on data collection, which contributes to its computational advantage.
What advantages does the US have in the AI race?
The US and its allies excel in the design and manufacturing of advanced semiconductor chips, a crucial component for AI computation. The US also leads in AI investment and has been allocating substantial funds to AI research and talent acquisition.
Is cooperation possible between China and the US in the field of AI?
While competition in the AI race is inevitable, experts emphasize the need for cooperation between China and the US in certain areas. Collaborative efforts on global AI standards and addressing shared challenges can benefit both countries and the global AI community.