China’s central government helps businesses by investing money and provides policy support for AI research. Local governments are encouraged to build industrial parks for AI business, and the state works closely with technology companies to build new intelligent cities. On the other side of the Pacific, however, the US government is reducing its technology budget letting AI adapt to the current infrastructure.
Lee says the AI algorithm is to computing what electricity was in the last technological revolution. China has the advantage of combining its huge data sets with AI applications. In the AI era, the country or company with more data can make more information decisions and thereby more profit.
China’s digital infrastructure makes it possible to collect every movement of every citizen down to the last detail, erasing the boundary between online and offline. The advantage the Americans have, Lee writes, is that they can apply AI in businesses and the credit market because of its huge cache of structured trading data.
Unlike American IT companies which prefer to establish a completely new product and sell it around the world, the Chinese buy local companies and support them with money, technology and marketing experience. Silicon Valley makes sure every product is perfect before launching, while the Chinese fix bugs on the go.
Lee says no matter which model wins out in the next IT revolution, it is time to examine the threats to human society from an omnipotent artificial intelligence as it replaces work that needs physical and mental inputs in medicine, accounting, translations, etc.
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But as people are freed up from repetitive chores, AI will also bring new job opportunities just like farmers became factory workers during the Industrial Revolution. Besides, Lee writes from his own experience with battling cancer, there are things like love and friendship that can never be replaced by a machine. Or, can it?