AI Superpowers Summary By Kai-Fu Lee

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Kai-Fu Lee's AI Superpowers (2018) is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of the US and China and their role in the rapidly developing world of AI economy.

This insightful book discusses how both countries are already leading, and will continue to lead, innovation in this groundbreaking field.

Lee, taking into account his own experience as a tech expert and venture capitalist with experience in both China and the US, provides an overview of past developments while discussing what can be expected in the future.

He offers an incisive look at the way AI has shaped our world, making it essential reading for those wishing to stay ahead of the technological curve.

AI Superpowers

Book Name: AI Superpowers (China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order)

Author(s): Kai-Fu Lee

Rating: 4.4/5

Reading Time: 20 Minutes

Categories: Economics

Author Bio

Kai-Fu Lee is an expert in the world of technology.

He has a background that many professionals would envy, having obtained a degree in computer science from Columbia University and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon.

His career spans esteemed tech companies including Apple, Microsoft, and SGI, then moved onto becoming president of Google China before founding his own venture capitalist firm Sinovation in 2009.

It's no surprise that he was able to write such an insightful book about the future of AI, as his perspective is truly unique and well-informed.

China’s Strategy to Topple Silicon Valley and Become the World Leader in AI

World Leader in AI

As we head into the new AI economy, it’s clear that the US and China are two of the biggest players in the game.

Both countries have a wide range of bright minds that are working to develop and utilize their respective AI capabilities.

China is particularly determined to become a global superpower in AI, going so far as to heavily subsidize rent for AI-tech start-ups and making it easy to launch a new venture.

Chinese government even securing placements at competitive schools for start-up executives – talk about playing hardball!

Author Kai-Fu Lee believes that China has put itself in a great position to beat Silicon Valley, take charge of the new AI-based economy and thus Change the world order.

He’s spent years researching both tech hubs and has seen phenomenal successes like Groupon becoming one of the biggest start-ups on earth, WeChat rising as the world’s ultimate superapp and an unexpected cancer scare inspiring him to rethink our relationship with AI.

Deep Learning: Unravelling the Mystery Behind AI’s Breakthrough In the 21st Century

What we’re seeing now with Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the result of decades of research by pioneers like Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy.

They wanted to create machines that possessed what we now refer to as human intelligence – but it wasn’t until a breakthrough in deep learning that real-world AI started becoming a major business tool.

The story of getting to deep learning stretches back over 50 years, when researchers were divided into two camps – rule-based and neural network – whose approaches differed significantly.

Rule-based AI believed the best results would come from teaching machines one rule at a time, whereas neural network AI let the machine learn on its own – an experience more akin to humans learning.

With improved computing power in the mid-2000s and Geoffrey Hinton’s layered neurons system, AI started having remarkable successes.

This new technology was quickly applicable to everyday functions such as pattern recognition, financial decisions, and even driving cars!

All thanks to a breakthrough in deep learning: now we are on the verge of an AI economy!

Copycat Culture in China Paved the Way for Its AI Revolution

Copycat Culture in China

Over the past few years, China has gone from being simply a copycat of Silicon Valley businesses to becoming a major contender in the tech and innovation space.

This transition began with what is referred to as China’s “Sputnik moment”.

It all started with AlphaGo’s victory over Lee Sedol in a Go tournament in 2016, which had more than 280 million viewers watching on their TVs.

While many people were saddened by the loss, this event ultimately inspired the Chinese people to pursue AI innovation.

This encouragement from government and popular support enabled Chinese entrepreneurs to work towards tech breakthroughs on their own, rather than just copying Silicon Valley products.

One example of this is Wang Xing, whose copycat Friendster, Facebook, Twitter and Groupon sites taught him how to design impressive webpages – an invaluable skill that he then put into play when creating his own group discount service Meituan.

Unlike Groupon, Wang didn’t limit himself or his product line; instead he took risks and included new products based off whatever was popular at the time including movies, food delivery and local tourism services.

By 2014, Groupon had tanked while Meituan was one of the four most valuable start-ups in the world – all thanks to Wang’s strategic risks!

From copycat country to top contender indeed!

The Heavy Touch of WeChat: How China’s Data Goldmine Grew Out of a Holiday Tradition

When it comes to data that fuels AI, China is sitting on the world’s biggest goldmine.

This is due in large part to the popularity of mobile phones and hence mobile-first internet experience.

WeChat is a perfect example.

It’s known as a “super-app” because it allows people to do just about everything – chatting with friends, booking a doctors appointment, ordering food for delivery and so much more – without leaving the app.

And thanks to another mini app known as the WeChat Wallet, transactions have become increasingly cash-free; something that has only increased with each New Year’s celebration which traditionally includes sending electronic red envelopes via WeChat with no transaction fees!

All these factors combined make up an incredibly unique online world in China which makes it a goldmine for AI entities like never seen before as there is little comparable elsewhere.

The Emergence of AI and How the US and China Are Competing for Dominance

Emergence of AI

While China is poised to be the top superpower when it comes to internet AI, the US still has the edge when it comes to business AI.

This is due to the US’s long history of record keeping and the data that it provides for algorithms.

China does have some impressive mobile services, such as Smart Finance which make loans using metrics rather than financial history or zip code, but they cannot compete with the abundance of available data in the US.

China is making up ground though and five years from now, experts predict that China will have a 60-40 advantage over America in terms of dominating the internet AI market.

This is largely because they already have more users than us and Europe combined, who are increasingly eager to pay content creators when they can use apps like WeChat Wallet.

In contrast, America’s advantage in terms of business AI is expected to drop from 90-10 currently to 70-30 by then.

China Gaining Great Ground in AI Technology Race, Particularly for Perception and Autonomous AI

When it comes to AI development, China is playing catch up in many areas.

But when it comes to perception AI, they are ahead of the game.

Advances such as voice and facial recognition programs have given them the advantage due to cultural differences.

Americans tend to be more reserved about their privacy whereas Chinese citizens are more likely to relinquish some of it for convenience.

Perception AI has the potential to bridge the gap between online and offline, which is why this technology often falls under the category of OMO (online-merge-offline).

One example of OMO technology is a smart grocery store that can greet you in your favorite actor’s voice and recommend products identified on a shopping list specific to you.

Additionally, Xiaomi products give users a transformed home experience with devices that understand voice commands like speakers, refrigerators, rice cookers, and vacuum cleaners – all very affordable due to their local manufacturing hub in Shenzhen.

Unfortunately for China, autonomous AI is an area where the US has an early lead – at 90-10 right now but expected to go down closer 50-50 after five years.

US companies such as Google and Tesla are making driverless cars commonplace while also innovating in drones and machines that can recognize colors or simply pick ripe strawberries from planting fields.

In upshot, China may be winning out in certain concepts of AI technology, but when it comes to autonomous systems the US currently holds a strong lead that may become more fragile over time.

Economists are Divided On the Impact of AI on Jobs

AI on Jobs

When talking about the effects of AI in our world, the debate often falls on two perspectives: utopia or dystopia.

Ray Kurzweil and AI researcher Demis Hassabis believe that machines can be used to enhance our lives and minds, solving global issues such as disease and global warming.

On the other hand, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking take a different view – they view AI as quite a danger to humanity by creating an automated world where an AI could conclude that wiping out humans is the best solution to solve global warming.

Both economists and researchers have been debating for years about what the world with AI economy looks like, so experts are still divided on this subject.

In 2013 Oxford University did a study finding 47 percent of US jobs at risk from automation in 20 years but reports that followed highlighted most of these jobs won’t be entirely replaced but rather certain tasks will be automated due to increasing profits for certain companies.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) came up with slightly lower numbers (9 % of US jobs being at risk) but PWC predicted 38 percent of US jobs would be lost while McKinsey Global noted roughly 50 percent of tasks worldwide could already become automated.

Regardless if it’s predictions from the Oxford University or others, experts still remain divided on this issue since ground-up displacement wasn’t taken into considerations when companies gain advantage from automation without adding new employees.

Author tends to agree with PWC report thinking actual number may even be higher as many businesses don’t need loan officers or editors anymore due to advancements in technology.

The Shift from Workaholic Culture to Human Relationships due to AI’s Emergence and a Call to Create a Human-Centered Labor Market

When the author was diagnosed with stage IV lymphoma, it was a wake up call.

He realized that being productive at work wasn’t what made him human, but instead it was relationships with family and friends that made life meaningfull.

After a series of chemotherapy treatment he went into remission, this also changed his perspective on how humans and AI could collaborate in harmony.

The emergence of AI presents us with a great opportunity to hand over the bulk of our mechanical tasks to algorithms and use our energy to focus more on being part of our community and making a better world.

To make this collaboration successful, we need to value certain jobs differently.

Currently high paying roles are those that generate profits easily, while labor intensive jobs such as caregivers are underpaid.

One example is home health aide and personal care jobs which will be added by 1.2 million in the next ten years with an average salary around $20,000- which is too low given the laborious nature of caretaking.

If we can raise the salary while allowing AI to generate profit in other areas, then this can solve both job displacement issue while taking care of communities more adequately.

Rather than focusing solely on monetary gains, countries such as Bhutan assess ‘Gross National Happiness’ as the true indicator of progress—we should strive for similar goals in order to create human-centred labor markets driven not just by economics or financial gain but by elevating people’s livelihoods for maximum benefit for all involved.

Wrap Up

The final summary of AI Superpowers is that China is positioned to become the world’s leading AI superpower.

This is backed up by the fact that it has a government which is committed to promoting new technologies and businesses.

In combination with their already robust manufacturing industry, and access to a trove of data on its citizens, they have a great opportunity to produce AI-based products and services which can be used all around the world.

Whilst this could potentially mean job loss for many, if we shift our focus towards rewarding human-to-human activities like caring and community work, it could result in the development of an even greater society where everyone has a chance at success.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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