China Will Have an Edge in the Arms Race Over Artificial Intelligence

When people talk about an arms race, this usually refers to nuclear weapons; however, there is another arms race that is going on that is equally, if not more, important to keep track of.  Around the world, countries are trying to excel in artificial intelligence as its applications can be used in a variety or ways.  According to a recent article, it appears that China has the edge in the arms race of AI.


How AI is an Asset for Chinese Detectives

According to a recent article from writer Clay Chandler, the arms race for becoming the leader in artificial intelligence has China having an edge over the competition and a good example of this is how AI is becoming an asset for Chinese detectives.  Apparently, AI is being used to assist detectives in catching criminals and one that was apprehended last month demonstrates its success.

Last month, it was reported by officials from the eastern Chinese city of Jiaxing utilized facial-recognition that was powered from artificial intelligence technology to capture alleged tater taker during a performance by Hong Kong crooner Jacky Cheung from a crowd of more than 20,000 people that were in the audience.  The unsuspected suspect was caught moments after going through a security system within the concert as an algorithm was able to match his face to an image from the most wanted database of mug shots; the authorities caught the man and is charge with stealing potatoes worth $17,000.

The man was the third fugitive in many months to be arrested at a Jacky Cheung performance utilizing software created by Beijing’s Megvii, while many other Chinese companies are pioneering ways of combining facial-recognition and AI capabilities. 


Other Ways AI and Facial-Recognition are Being Used

While artificial intelligence is being utilized in aiding Chinese detectives, the technology is being used in a variety of ways.  Alibaba Group mobile payments affiliate Ant Financial utilizes what is called smile to pay feature for customers when making a purchase at KFC.  A park that is close to Beijing’s Temple of Heaven makes use of the technology inside a public restroom to prevent patrons from taking toilet paper.  Hangzhou has a high school which monitors the attentiveness of students during class while traffic police in Shenzhen and other cities utilize the technology in spotting reckless bike couriers and jaywalkers.

All these examples strongly demonstrate the zeal of the world’s second-biggest economy is determined to excel in artificial intelligence.  Also, President Xi Jinping has vowed that China will be the global leader when it comes to AI by 2030; this would create a domestic industry valued at almost one-hundred-and-fifty-billion-dollars.   


While many believe the rest of the world should be concerned with China’s artificial intelligence ambitions, others feel it is far from being a guarantee that the country will succeed in supremacy of AI.  According to a report in June from McKinsey regarding this subject, many of the challenges of A.I. are global in nature, not for government to solve alone.

According to the former head of Google China, Kai-Fu-Lee, the argument is that there is a shift in artificial intelligence from being a U.S.-led Age of Discovery and heading to an Age of Implementation where China has significant structural advantages.  The important drivers are competent engineers, data and computing power; all of these favors the most populous nation in the world.

However, proponents of AI caution that the technology would eradicate millions of jobs, which is a troubling thought for a country that continues to be heavily dependent on mundane manufacturing jobs.  Will China be able to deal with this type of an outcome?  When it comes to deep learning, it appears that it also brings out deep questions.