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AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, And The New World


Author Kai-Fu Lee begins his book with an unexpected invitation to look within ourselves and each other to guide us through the new age of AI. He notes that our AI future will be created by us and reflect the choices we make and actions we take together. If we allow it, AI provides us all an opportunity to discover what makes us human. But our path will not be straightforward, nor will it be easy. Technology is calling for us to face the critical issues confronting our societies today – growing inequality, widespread unemployment, and our beliefs about what gives us value and meaning as humans. More than a simple book about the race between China and the U.S to lead the world into a new age of technology, Kai-Fu proposes a new direction that could lead to humanity flourishing.


Broken into three parts, Kai-Fu takes us on a journey through the changing landscape of AI, details the challenges that lie ahead, and invites us to grasp the opportunities that our move to an AI age will present. AI Superpowers is like an action novel! It is hard not to be carried along by the ideas or be excited about this new age that is dawning.


The rise of the machines


Until the world champion of "Go," Ke-Jie, was overcome by Deep Mind's AlphaGo AI algorithm in 2017, China seemed mostly disinterested in boarding the AI train. Two months after AI's triumph over a human, the Central Chinese government launched plans to build their own AI capabilities.


China helped move AI from the age of discovery to the age of implementation. And from an era of expertise to an era of machines making complex decisions based on data. Today, the success of AI is no longer reliant on a select group of expert computer scientists. Three factors feed its development: big data, computing power, and new AI algorithms.


AI development plays to many of China's strengths. A cut-throat entrepreneurial environment, a drive to endlessly innovate and iterate business models, and endless enthusiasm for exposing new areas of profit is already bringing about their development of life-changing apps.


Both the U.S and China are incubating AI giants set to dominate global markets, extract wealth from consumers, and advance AI-driven automation into every corner of society. While this will create an exponential increase in productivity across nearly every industry, it will also extend unemployment lines, concentrate wealth in the hands of a few, and create a genuine threat of social and political unrest, even collapse.


Four waves of change


Disruption from AI will wash over our world in four waves. Beginning with Internet AI, moving through to Business AI, Perception AI, and culminating in Autonomous AI, each wave will bring new opportunities and challenges.


Internet AI is already a big part of our lives today – rooted in the recommendation algorithms that learn our preferences and idiosyncrasies to serve hand-picked content that keeps us online and consuming a wide range of products and services.


Business AI is also fast becoming a part of daily transactions. Algorithms mining vast amounts of health, financial, and insurance data are displacing many mid-level white-collar jobs. Micro-financing, house loans, faster and more accurate medical diagnoses, fraud detection, and myriad other functions can be handled by a computer algorithm – and more effectively too. In many cases, these systems are already pushing humans out of