Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer just a buzzword. It has become a powerful tool for political, economic and military dominance. It is also transforming industries, including finance, healthcare, and transportation. With such transformative potential, the United States and China have been fiercely competing to lead in this technology.
The U.S. and China are both taking steps towards developing AI, with China investing heavily in the technology. In 2017, China’s State Council issued a report outlining its plan for AI development over the next few years. This report set a goal of China being the world leader in AI development by 2030. Meanwhile, the United States has invested billions of dollars in AI startups and established a national AI strategy in 2019 to remain competitive.
As AI becomes increasingly vital to global power plays, experts believe the U.S. must forge a working relationship with China in certain areas to maintain its global edge. The problem is, the relationship between the two countries has been strained over the last few years. The U.S. has expressed concerns that China is not playing fairly in the technology sector, particularly by stealing intellectual property.
To stay ahead of China, the United States should prioritize collaboration in certain areas where it benefits more than China, such as in human talent and computing hardware. The U.S. should focus on attracting the top Chinese AI talent to stay and work in the country. A recent study showed that over 50% of Chinese undergraduates who move to the United States for their PhDs end up staying in the country after graduation. This newfound talent has been a boon to the U.S., and should become a critical part of American AI strategies.
Moreover, the U.S. should also concentrate on its strength of designing high-quality computing hardware. For example, American giants like Intel, Nvidia, and Qualcomm have continued to lead the hardware race. A lot of China’s AI industry is reliant on American-designed computing hardware, and this is a huge advantage for the United States.
However, in some areas, the U.S. should sever ties, particularly in situations involving human rights abuses or military applications. The U.S. should deny sales that could be used to support China’s military or contribute to human rights violations. Additionally, the United States should maintain China’s reliance on American-made chips. This keeps leverage against Chinese companies like Huawei, while ensuring that American companies continue to be the dominant suppliers of high-quality computing hardware.
In other words, experts suggest that by sticking to this strategy, the U.S. can continue to maintain its position as a leader in AI, while also building a productive and beneficial relationship with China. This strategy will help the U.S. to avoid becoming over-dependent on China or ceding technological dominance to China while also cooperating in areas like research and innovation.
Furthermore, the United States should also focus on ethical innovation in AI. China has been criticized for its use of AI technologies in different activities such as suppressing dissent and monitoring citizens. The United States can focus on the ethical use of AI and privacy, making it an attractive destination for AI talent from around the world.
As the world becomes more dependent on artificial intelligence, the United States must act decisively to maintain its position in the global landscape, while forging strategic partnerships for a better future. By being mindful of how its technological exchanges with its Asian rival interact with its own economic interests and national security, the US could lead in the global Artificial Intelligence race.