According to a new analysis published on Wednesday, 13 March 2019, by the Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence, China is now poised to overtake the U.S. in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), and might already be in the lead in some regards.
“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,” wrote co-authors on the paper Field Cady and Oren Etzioni in a blog post on the news website Medium.
Even though much of the AI-related papers coming out Chinese research institutions were considered to be of medium- or even low-quality, the analysis suggests that China is likely to top the U.S. in the most-cited 50 per cent of papers in 2019, the most-cited 10 per cent of papers by 2020, and in the top one per cent by 2025.
While academic citations are not in themselves proof of the quality and influence of ideas – the Allen Institute is now planning to conduct research on how much of this effect might be explained by Chinese researchers citing fellow nationals – the trend has been clear for quite a while.
For the purposes of the analysis, Cady and Etzioni went through data on more than 2 million AI research publications using the Semantic Scholar academic search engine, finding that a sharp uptick in China’s productivity in the area of artificial intelligence research started well before 2017 when the country’s government announced its plan to become the world lead in AI by 2030.
China’s success in the field may, at least in part, be explained by the ambitious, yet detailed government strategy, and the heavy involvement of state-affiliated bodies in the nitty-gritty of research – for scale, the proportion of AI-related publications authored by corporate bodies differs seven-fold between the two countries.
A key factor that might impede the U.S. in keeping up is its nebulous strategy – the executive order recently signed by President Donald Trump was found by many experts to be well intentioned, but inadequate, failing to ensure a more welcoming immigration policy and the funding necessary to maintain leading position.
So far, the Chinese government’s predictions of its own success have been pretty much on track, so unless something radically changes, the U.S. might soon be left in the dust.
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