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China to Become an AI Superpower as Europe Experiences Brain Drain

Recent research by Elsevier, an information analytics firm, suggested that China could become a global superpower in AI research as AI researchers in Europe are being poached by some of the leading technology companies in the US.

The study revealed that Chinese output, especially in AI had grown by nearly two thirds between 2013 and 2017.

The authors behind the study said that “China is bound to overtake Europe in publication output in AI in the near future, having already overtaken the United States in 2004”.

Beijing has not shied away from publicizing its plans to become a global artificial intelligence leader, in spite of fears that its research in the field is being utilized not only in monitoring its population but also in cracking down dissent.

The study conducted by Elsevier also revealed that Chinese research publications related to computer vision, a section of artificial intelligence(AI) that focuses on interpreting video and image, had grown more than twice in four years.

As a key part of its policing strategy, China focuses on facial recognition, a computer vision branch.

“It’s a major focus area of policy in China, it’s the number one area that’s being researched and the number one area that students graduate in,” claimed Maria de Kleijn-Lloyd of Elsevier Analytics.

The report also discovered that in Europe, over a thousand artificial intelligence (AI) researchers had quit academia-based roles to work in companies located outside Europe in the past two decades.

Even though US-based technology giants were not explicitly mentioned in the research, companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, and many others are currently investing considerably in developing their own AI laboratories.

READ MORE China’s Tech Giants Invest More on AI than Silicon Valley

Several of these companies have poached some researchers from leading British universities.

Many of these researchers are lured to join US-based companies by the prospect of massive computing power and vast volumes of data.

On the contrary, Chinese companies are currently enjoying a “brain gain,” as increased ambitious national funding and policies continue to attract students to the AI space.

Back in October, several MPs issued a warning that Britain was at the verge of losing its status as a leading AI power, especially if it continues losing its AI experts to United States-based companies.

Elsevier’s study also revealed that several researchers were thinking about ethical issues in their research in comparison to broader concerns regarding AI’s ethical implications. “The attention to ethics in the public discourse is not reflected in the research literature,” wrote the authors of the study.

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KC Cheung
KC Cheung has over 18 years experience in the technology industry including media, payments, and software and has a keen interest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and its applications in business. Over the years he has worked with some of the leading technology companies, building and growing dynamic teams in a fast moving international environment.
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