Impacts and Consequences
Resulting from the Google AI China Center’s opening and then operations, we estimate rising likelihoods to see :
- Redrawing of the power map of the world along AI-power status lines
- Rising competition regarding AI between U.S. and Chinese mammoth Companies
- Human talents as stake in rising AI competition
- “Forced” introduction of “open source” AI work in China
- AI further progress and developments
- Rising U.S. ability to stem the declining tide in terms of AI
- Rising China’s influence in terms of AI
- Rising China’s strength and capability to further develop AI
- Strengthening capability of Chinese government and State to “keep in check” mammoth IT companies
- Strengthening of Chinese political authorities
- Increased China’s influence
- China’s rise to top major power status
- US decline from sole superpower to major power status (in relative terms, the U.S. capability to stem decline out of this specific signal does not compensate for the corresponding Chinese gains)
- Escalating Tension U.S. – China
(The corresponding symbolic board is located after the “facts and analysis section)
Facts and analysis
On 13 December 2017 during the 13 and 14 December Google Developer Days event in Shanghai, Fei-Fei Li Chief Scientist AI/ML *Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning), Google Cloud announced the creation of the Google AI China Center, their “first such center in Asia”. the center will focus on basic AI research, and is located in Beijing to attract as many talents as possible.
It follows logically from Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Alphabet Inc. (Google) and Chair, Defense Innovation Board’s perception and assessment we singled out in a previous signal, according to which
“These Chinese people are good… It’s pretty simple. By 2020, they will have caught up; by 2025, they will be better than us; and by 2030, they will dominate the industries of AI.” (Eric Schmidt, Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit, CNAS, 1 Nov 2017)
As a result Google is positioning itself to be present on a market that they see as being dominant in the future. In the meantime, by attracting these Chinese AI talents, they also potentially slow the AI development of their Chinese competitors, which are Alibaba, Huawei, TenCent or Baidu.
As underlined by the Chinese official viewpoint, such a competition may only be healthy and stimulating and promote innovation at Chinese level, notably in a field that is so close to the heart of China, which aims at becoming leader in AI. The Google AI Center shows the attractiveness of China, and will help China attracting notably Asian talents to China, de facto favouring China’s goals.
Finally, Google is certainly an interesting actor for the Chinese government as it is allowed on the Chinese-Global AI board, in as much as it can be also possibly used to check the mammoth power garnered by the IT Chinese giants. For example, according to a Huawei Director there is a Chinese lag in “developing open-source software”. Assuming that this position is shared by the Chinese political authorities, allowing Google to enter the AI competition in China is likely to be a perfect way to force Chinese companies towards more open-source efforts (yet of course without overestimating Google open efforts, as we are dealing here with for profit companies).
The Chinese government and state thus ensures it strengthens its hand in remaining master of China’s destiny.
Sources and Signals
Since becoming a professor 12 years ago and joining Google a year ago, I’ve had the good fortune to work with many talented Chinese engineers, researchers and technologists. China is home to many of the world’s top experts in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Google announced Wednesday that it is opening an artificial intelligence (AI) research center in Beijing. This may serve as a springboard for China to attract top-ranking talent from around the world.