Many major technology companies are racing to get involved in China’s artificial intelligence (AI) efforts. Microsoft, Amazon, Alibaba and several other international tech giants have announced the establishment of AI-related innovation centers and research institutes in the city of Shanghai. Recently, Microsoft announced that they plan to open their largest artificial intelligence and internet of things lab in Shanghai’s Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park in April of this year. This lab will be their first lab in the Asia-Pacific region. The lab is a collaborative effort between the Pudong New Area government and Microsoft. Their goal is to aid professionals from related enterprises in developing multi-field integration by making scientific research resources available in Zhangjiang, a region known as “China’s Silicon Valley”. The following article does an excellent job of reporting the details behind the activity, and why Western government leaders should take notice. 

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite. This caught the U.S. unprepared and launched the space race between the two countries. It ignited American interest in space exploration and led to the creation of NASA and the first human landing on the moon.

In “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order,” venture capitalist and former Google China chief Kei-Fu Lee argues that when the artificial intelligence machine AlphaGo—a product of the British startup DeepMind, acquired by Google in 2014—beat the world’s best Go player, Kw Jie, in 2017, China lived a “Sputnik moment.”

“When Chinese investors, entrepreneurs and government officials all focus on one industry, they can truly shake the world,” Lee says. “China is ramping up AI investment, research and entrepreneurship on a historical scale. Money for AI startups is pouring in from venture capitalists, tech juggernauts and the Chinese government.”

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