Thursday June 20, 2024

US vs China

By Dr Farrukh Saleem
August 11, 2019

The war between the US and China is getting hotter. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the new weapon of war. In the US corner are: Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Apple. In the Chinese corner are: Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. According to Amy Webb’s ‘The big nine: How the tech titans and their thinking machines could warp humanity’, the war is “aimed toward control and global domination” and “AI will determine who emerges the victor”.

In the simplest of terms, AI “refers to any computer grogram or system that can perform tasks that resemble acts of human intelligence.” There are three types of AI: Artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), artificial general intelligence (AGI) and artificial super intelligence (ASI). ANI is a computer programme or system that outperforms humans in some very narrowly defined task (examples: Siri, chess, smart personal assistants, voice to text features, automated responders, self-driven cars etc).

AGI will be a system that “would possess the cognitive abilities that we humans possess coupled with the ability to process this data at much greater speeds than humans.” In other words, a “machine that has the capacity to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can.” Currently, more than four-dozen organizations are conducting research on AGI. ASI, or artificial super intelligence, is a “term referring to the time when the capability of computers will surpass humans.”

According to Bloomberg, “The US-China trade war is at heart a battle for tech supremacy and the huge commercial and national security advantages that come with it.” Who is winning-the US or China? Well, the US has “created the most valuable technology companies in the world.” Over the past five years, China’s technology sector has surged…..with Tencent and Alibaba making their way into the top ranks of global companies.”

Who is winning – the US or China? China’s internet base is now four times bigger than America’s. Who is winning – the US or China? Well, America’s GDP per capita stands at $60,000 while China’s lags behind at under $10,000. And that “gives US tech companies a target-rich environment of generating revenue, whether for use in developing the next big product or simply booking profits.”

Who is winning – the US or China? As far as ‘5G and the future of communication’ is concerned, American “makers of communications equipment have lost ground in the last two decades…..Huawei is clearly the strongest dominating the development of the fifth-generation technology…..” Who is winning – the US or China? As far as chip making is concerned, Intel, the American chip manufacturer, has revenues of $70 billion as opposed to HiSilicon, China’s largest, with revenues of $7 billion.

Who is winning – the US or China? Well, the total international AI talent pool was last estimated at 204,575. Of the total, the US has 28,000; China 18,000; India 17,000; Germany 9,400 and the UK 8,000. Who is winning – the US or China? As far as ‘manufacturing muscle’ is concerned, China has now outstripped the US.

In 1997, IBM’s supercomputer called Deep Blue – using data from human games – won against Garry Kasparov, the world chess champion. In 2008, Stockfish became the highest ranking chess engine. In 2017, DeepMind’s AlphaGo Zero – an artificial-intelligence programme without using data from human games – defeated Stockfish.

Welcome to ‘machine learning’ – an “application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides system the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed.” This is the new war. AI will determine who emerges the victor”. Who is winning – the US or China?

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: Twitter: @saleemfarrukh