IMAGE: Tortoise Intelligence
IMAGE: Tortoise Intelligence
IMAGE: Tortoise Intelligence

Make no mistake: AI is the new global benchmark

Enrique Dans
Feb 17, 2020 · 3 min read

A World Economic Forum article, “AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how” is based on a report by Tortoise Intelligence that notes how China’s centralized approach to research on artificial intelligence is much more efficient than its traditional competitor, the United States, which opts for research initiatives distributed among many private competitors linked to some public initiatives or enhanced with public money.

The United States spends more than any other country on AI, but most of that investment is part of multiple private and independent initiatives rather than an organized strategy. China is in second place at the moment, but its government’s coordinated and centralized approach suggests it will soon eclipse US spending. According to Tortoise, China’s AI spending plans are one and a half times higher than the combined global total, and it already spends more than the United States on basic and applied research in areas related to AI.

The potential impact of AI will be “comparable to that of electricity or fire”, according to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. A recent Brookings report predicts that those countries able to harness it will lead the world in the coming decades.

Building ecosystems to promote research into AI and its applications is a vital task for governments. Some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, are already laying out national AI strategies and appointing ministers to develop lines of action that include education, research funding and raising awareness of this technology among the general public by providing free literacy courses.

The prospect of machines learning from previously labelled data, instead of following traditional programming, which tries to foresee all outcomes through conditionals and loops, will mean a revolution in the way we approach the use of technology, allowing for greater versatility and flexibility.

The spread of AI will be subject to the same adoption cycles we have seen in other fields, and we will see laggards that will take longer to exploit its advantages and whose economies will remain subject to the rules of the old economy for longer, creating a growing productivity gap.

Old metrics such as job creation will be left behind as machines are able to replace human labor and increase productivity, which will provide the countries that make more progress with the opportunity to better test the new social models that will emerge. As said, this is a technology whose applications will redefine our societies and, above all, our relationship with work.

The Tortoise report also includes a Global AI Index that ranks countries according to criteria applied to AI such as talent, infrastructure, operating environments, research, development, and government and business strategies. The roles for the different actors on the global geopolitical stage in the coming decades are now being shared, and while some try to apply their traditional strategies, many others are standing on the sidelines, unable to see what is at stake. The message is clear: countries that fail to understand the impact of AI will be left in the Stone Age.

(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people…

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School, blogger at enriquedans.com and Senior Contributor at Forbes

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School, blogger at enriquedans.com and Senior Contributor at Forbes

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

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