America desperately needs to win the race in AI, robotics, driverless, supercomputers, solar and other next-level sectors if the nation is to maintain its place in the world. If a powerful and wealthy democracy were to invest wisely and boldly, it would have a great advantage in such competitions with an autocracy like China. Unfortunately, we’ve never had a government less-equipped or less willing to pull off this feat. Trump wants to make coal great again, and Mnuchin can’t see AI on his radar.
If the U.S. and the European states are lose in these areas to China, infamous only a decade ago for its knockoff Apple Stores, the latter nation’s technological might and soft power will increase, further imperiling liberty.
The opening of a New York Times piece by Paul Mozur and John Markoff:
HONG KONG — Soren Schwertfeger finished his postdoctorate research on autonomous robots in Germany , and seemed set to go to Europe or the US, where artificial intelligence was pioneered and established.
Instead, he went to China.
“You couldn’t have started a lab like mine elsewhere,” Schwertfeger said.
The balance of power in technology is shifting. China, which for years watched enviously as the west invented the software and the chips powering today’s digital age, has become a major player in artificial intelligence, what some think may be the most important technology of the future. Experts widely believe China is only a step behind the US.
China’s ambitions mingle the most far-out sci-fi ideas with the needs of an authoritarian state: Philip K Dick meets George Orwell. There are plans to use it to predict crimes, lend money, track people on the country’s ubiquitous closed-circuit cameras, alleviate traffic jams, create self-guided missiles and censor the internet.
Beijing is backing its artificial intelligence push with vast sums of money. Having already spent billions on research programs, China is readying a new multibillion-dollar initiative to fund moonshot projects, start-ups and academic research, all with the aim of growing China’s A.I. capabilities, according to two professors who consulted with the government on the plan.•