February 13, 2018

China’s AI Agenda Advances

By Elsa B. Kania

Are China’s ambitions to “lead the world” in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2030 credible? China’s rapid emergence as an AI powerhouse is often hyped and sensationalized, variously provoking alarm and enthusiasm that can sometimes overshadow the reality of real progress. At the same time, critical challenges remain in China’s quest to become “the world’s premier AI innovation center” and build up an AI industry of 1 trillion RMB (about $150 billion) in the process.

In China’s “rise” in AI, the active efforts of private enterprises have predated more recent policy support. However, since the State Council released the New Generation AI Development Plan in July 2017, there have been a number of indicators that its implementation is advancing throughout all levels of government. Although the future trajectory of its AI revolution remains to be seen, China is rapidly building momentum to harness the power of state support and the dynamism of private enterprises in a new model of innovation.

AI has only recently become a clear priority for Chinese leaders under the aegis of an agenda to transform China into a “nation of innovation.” For the 13th Five-Year Plan timeframe (2016-2020), China’s ambitions to transform itself into a superpower in science and technology are clear. In August 2016, the 13th Five-Year National Science and Technology Innovation Plan called for China to seize the “high ground” in international scientific development, launching a series of 15 “Science and Technology Innovation 2030 Megaprojects”  that included both big data and intelligent manufacturing and robotics. At that point, AI was not explicitly included as a priority at that level, despite being mentioned in that and included in prior plans, such as the “Internet Plus” Artificial Intelligence Three-Year Action Implementation Plan, released in May 2016. Not until May 2017 did the Ministry of Science and Technology announce the decision to add “AI 2.0” to that initial lineup as a 16th megaproject.

Read the full op-ed in The Diplomat.

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • December 24, 2019
    The United States Needs a Strategy for Artificial Intelligence

    In the coming years, artificial intelligence will dramatically affect every aspect of human life. AI—the technologies that simulate intelligent behavior in machines—will chang...

    By Martijn Rasser

  • Commentary
    • Breaking Defense
    • December 23, 2019
    America Desperately Needs AI Talent, Immigrants Included

    The United States is engaged in a global technology competition in artificial intelligence. But while the US government has shown commitment to developing AI systems that will...

    By Megan Lamberth

  • Reports
    • December 17, 2019
    The American AI Century: A Blueprint for Action

    Foreword By Robert O. Work We find ourselves in the midst of a technological tsunami that is inexorably reshaping all aspects of our lives. Whether it be in agriculture, finan...

    By Martijn Rasser, Megan Lamberth, Ainikki Riikonen, Chelsea Guo, Michael Horowitz & Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • December 12, 2019
    The China Challenge

    The United States and China are strategic competitors, and technology is at the center of this competition, critical to economic strength and national security. The United Sta...

    By Martijn Rasser, Elizabeth Rosenberg & Paul Scharre

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia