The U.S.-China AI race: A ‘third way’ for Europe?

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk, and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang at a summit
European Union and Chinese officials met on April 9, 2019, at a summit in Brussels, the day after new EU guidelines on artificial intelligence technologies was released (source: dpa)
  • Europe has been standing on the sidelines as China and the U.S. achieve global dominance in artificial intelligence
  • After focusing too much on regulations and ethics, the EU is launching new research initiatives and spending more on AI
  • China has amassed a trove of personal data on its citizens, which is valuable currency in the AI age
  • The U.S. and EU must cooperate if they are to blunt China’s AI ambitions

The present trade war between the United States and China is only one part of an escalating race between the two countries for technological supremacy in the 21st century. Western experts have warned that China will have caught up to the U.S. in artificial intelligence (AI) technology by 2025 and that it will dominate the worldwide AI industries by 2030 — a potential AI “Sputnik moment” for the U.S. The AI revolution may even come faster than previous technology revolu­tions, as it will likely be driven by quickly replicating software rather than the hardware of the past, such as the steam engine. In Europe, too, there are concerns that the continent is falling even further behind.

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