China’s AI Power Play

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Culture & Trends

China’s AI Power PlayKate Hollowood
April 13, 2018

China is making strides in AI, with a robot passing its medical licensing exam with flying colors. Some say it has so far eclipsed the US in terms of AI research.

A robot in China has passed the country’s national medical licensing exam with flying colors. Designed by iFlytek, the robot – named Xiaoyi – scored 96 points above the required marks. Xiaoyi, which is designed to capture and analyze patient information, illustrates how China is trying to make a variety of industries more efficient with artificial intelligence.

The breakthrough is just the latest achievement around AI to come out of China in recent years, as the country seeks to cement its place as a global technological power. China has made no secret of its ambitions, and has already managed to become the number one market for sales of industrial robots and a leading player in facial recognition technology.

And China’s success with AI technology is no different. While the US slashed funding in May of last year for government agencies that are integral to AI research, the Chinese government has invested billions into AI-based projects, startups and research. China’s government considers AI a major driver of economic expansion and is determined to gain a competitive advantage early, according to a bold statement made by the country’s State Council.  

China has, in fact, already surpassed the US in terms of AI research. According to Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt, the US is lagging behind because of its restrictive immigration policies and lack of investment.

“Trust me, these Chinese people are good,” said Schmidt at a tech summit organized by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in November of last year. The former Google CEO claimed the “arrogant” US needs to “get [its] act together” in order to be any kind of leader in the field. Otherwise, if robots like Xiaoyi continue to make the grade, beyond that of simply passing medical exams, we could see global power shift in China’s favor as the AI revolution unfolds.

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