Chinese Artificial Intelligence Will Leave US in the Dust: Tsinghua U Professor


A Tsinghua University professor hailing from the United States says that China is on track to assume a global lead in the artificial intelligence sector.

AI is one of the central planks of Beijing’s Made in China 2025 initiative, with the State Council setting the target of becoming global leader in the technology through 2030.

Steven White, associate professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management and associate director of the x-lab start-up training platform, says that China is set to fulfil this target due to the sheer volume of resources dedicated by Beijing to the AI sector.

“China is committed to becoming leader in AI, and the US will lose because they don’t have the resources,” said White in a recent interview with the Nikkei Asian Review.

“Research institutes, universities, private companies and the government all working together in a broad area…I haven’t seen anything like it.”

According to White China’s pursuit of AI dominance is akin to the competitiveness of the US during the Cold War space race, with Beijing willing to achieve victory irrespective of the cost.

“They want to have leading products and technology, and they are not as concerned about the amount of resources that it will take to do that,” said White.

Beijing is adopting the same approach it applied to the fintech sector, which has made China the world leader in mobile payments transactions.

Instead of implementing a top-down approach, White says Beijing is “aligning” key players as well as providing support policies for growth and research, with internet giants such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent taking the lead in the funding of startups with promise.

This approach is already bearing fruit for China’s AI sector, with facial recognition and image processing company SenseTime raising USD$1.2 billion in two funding rounds in April and May this year.