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AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order Hardcover – Illustrated, September 25, 2018
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Featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Wired, Financial Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, Forbes, and more.
"After thirty years of pioneering work in artificial intelligence at Google China, Microsoft, Apple and other companies, Lee says he’s figured out the blueprint for humans to thrive in the coming decade of massive technological disruption: 'Let us choose to let machines be machines, and let humans be humans.'"—Forbes
"Kai-Fu Lee believes China will be the next tech-innovation superpower and in his new (and first) book, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, he explains why. Taiwan-born Lee is perfectly positioned for the task."—New York Magazine
"Both a provocative and readable distillation of the conventional wisdom on AI supremacy, as well as a challenge to it."—Financial Times
"AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, by Kai-Fu Lee, about the ways that artificial intelligence is reshaping the world and the economic upheaval new technology will generate. We need to start thinking now about how to address these gigantic changes."—Senator Mark Warner, when asked about the best book he's read all year, Politico
“Kai-Fu Lee's smart analysis on human-AI coexistence is clear-eyed and a must-read. We must look deep within ourselves for the values and wisdom to guide AI's development.” —Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
“In his brilliant book, Kai-Fu Lee applies his superpowers to predicting the disruptive shifts that will define the AI-powered future and proposes a revolutionary social contract that forges a new synergy between AI and the human heart.” —Marc Benioff, Chairman & CEO Salesforce
“AI is surpassing human intelligence in more and more domains, transforming the planet. Kai-Fu Lee has been at the epicentre of the AI revolution for thirty years and has now written the definitive guide.” —Erik Brynjolfsson, professor, MIT, bestselling co-author of The Second Machine Age and Machine, Platform, Crowd
“Kai-Fu Lee is at the forefront of the coming AI revolution, helping us transcend the limitations of thought, reach, and vision. This seminal book on AI is a must read for anyone serious about understanding the future of our species.” —Peter Diamandis, Executive Founder, Singularity University; bestselling author of Abundance and BOLD.
“Truly one of the wisest and most surprising takes on AI. Kai-Fu Lee connects it with humans in a logical yet inspiring way. You’ll find this book illuminating and exciting in equal measure.” —Chris Anderson, Head of TED
“In this riveting page-turner, one of the founding fathers of China’s AI industry tells the inside story of China’a rise as an AI superpower, and shares his inspiring recipe for us flourishing rather than floundering with AI.” —Prof. Max Tegmark, professor, MIT and bestselling author of Life 3.0: Being Human in the age of AI.
“Kai-Fu Lee's experience as an AI pioneer, top investor, and cancer survivor has led to this brilliant book about global technology. AI Superpowers gives us a guide to a future that celebrates all the benefits that AI will bring, while cultivating what is unique about our humanity. It’s one of those books you read and think, ‘Why are people reading any other book right now when this is so clearly the one they need to be reading?’” —Arianna Huffington, founder, HuffPost, and founder & CEO, Thrive Global.
“Kai-Fu Lee has a deep understanding of the science behind the recent progress in AI as well as of China's growth as an AI technological superpower. In this book, he shares illuminating insights on how AI is likely to transform our societies and change its economic and political landscapes, always with the eye of one who cares about humanity and asks us to choose our future wisely.” —Yoshua Bengio, scientific director of MILA, deep learning pioneer and co-author of Deep Learning
“Kai-Fu Lee may have the most comprehensive view of the global technology scene of any living person.” —Alan Murray, President, FORTUNE
“ AI is already presenting new economic opportunities – and new problems of governance – for the United States and China. To deal with this breakthrough, we first must understand how it is being applied to transform our lives and our economies. AI Superpowers is a superb primer on this important driver of change.” —George Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State
“Kai-Fu Lee has great insights on one of today’s most exciting and important technological trends. China’s rapid development and commitment to the future should bring an interesting and exciting challenge to the U.S.: the game is on.” –John Chen, Chairman & CEO, Blackberry
“Kai-Fu Lee has been part of the AI revolution for decades. Now, in this fascinating and galvanizing book, he puts into perspective China’s role in the emergence of AI superpowers onto the global scene. He also gives us an optimistic view of a future where, working together with AI systems, people can augment and amplify many aspects of work and life.” —Daniela Rus, professor and director, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
“A unique book by one of the leading pioneers of the field of AI. Kai-Fu Lee is a top notch researcher, business executive and investor. He tells the tale of AI - in China and the US - better than anyone else. A great read!” —Sebastian Thrun, Rebel, and founder, Udacity
“ Kai-Fu Lee has a message for Westerners that should be heard loudly: the Chinese are coming and are positioned to dominate the AI era. As an American technologist, the book well laid out a cautionary tale for my fellow Silicon Valley inhabitants.” —Robert Scoble, Futurist
“Kai-Fu Lee's analysis of the perils and promises of AI is clear, convincing, technically sophisticated, deeply personal, and humane. Reading this book has given me a new way to think about the technological future of China, the United States, and the world.” —James Fallows, The Atlantic, author of China Airborne and Our Towns.
“Nobody understands the complex of issues that will drive the explosive development of artificial intelligence in China and the U.S. better than Kai-Fu Lee. He is a technical wizard who has led AI research and development teams in both countries, has lived in both cultures, and today operates one of the most prominent AI venture funds in China. His insights into the diverse cultural, governmental and technical factors that will frame the competition between nations make this book a must-read for anybody interested in the future of AI, and how it might change the world order.” —Tom Mitchell, professor of Machine Learning, Carnegie Mellon University
“In this riveting narrative, Kai-Fu Lee provides a brief history of China’s emergence as an AI superpower in the short span of two decades to rival the United States’ previously unchallenged supremacy. A must-read for anyone who is curious about what the future might hold.” –Raj Reddy, professor, Carnegie Mellon University, Turing Award Recipient
“Kai-Fu starts off praising Artificial Intelligence, his passion for thirty-seven years, and ends with a heartfelt homage to love. This book is a moving pilgrimage from head to heart by arguably the most successful Chinese engineer in history.” —Larry Brilliant, Technologist and philanthropist
“The book offers a wise guide to how we, as individuals, should set our priorities each day, each month, and each year. And it offers an equally wise, global perspective on how society might build a future that harmonizes AI’s power to think with humanity’s distinctive capacities for love, service, and compassion.” —Jeffrey Lehman, vice chancellor, NYU-Shanghai, former president, Cornell University.
““Kai-Fu Lee’s book is a must-read for the creators seeking to understand and harness the potential of AI for themselves, their organizations, and for the benefit of the world.” —John Hopcroft, professor, Cornell University, and Turing Award Recipient
“In his insightful and heartfelt book, Kai-Fu Lee provides a history and roadmap for Artificial Intelligence from his unique, first-hand, multi-cultural perspective. This instant classic offers a clear-eyed assessment of the state of the art along with its likely impact on the future of work, wealth, and international competition — but it is also much more. Lee delivers his wisdom with characteristic clarity and humility, richly illustrated with inspirational stories and lessons drawn from his lifetime of professional and personal experiences. Every civic-minded engineer, entrepreneur, and public official should keep this book by his or her bedside as an inspirational reminder of what it means to lead a life of purpose and service.” —Jerry Kaplan, AI expert, serial entrepreneur, technical innovator, educator, bestselling author, and futurist
“Few people have had Kai-Fu Lee's diverse experience in AI. His experience has made him a sort of oracle when it comes to trends in AI-related technology in Asia and the rest of the world. This book tells the story.” —Yann LeCun, director, Facebook Research
“Remarkable and insightful. Meticulously researched and riveting.” —Adeline Mah, bestselling author of Falling Leaves
“Having worked closely with both of them, Kai-Fu Lee’s brilliance for understanding and explaining the new AI world order is comparable to how Steve Jobs explained how personal computing would fundamentally change humanity. Kai-Fu's book is that good.” —John Sculley, former CEO, Apple
“Kai-Fu Lee has spent his career being right about technology. In a world where I fear many op-ed writers are worrying about spurious side-issues of AI or being hopelessly optimistic about technology automatically causing prosperity, Kai-Fu's clear thinking is refreshing. It is particularly important to understand his careful dissection of why US vs China is not a zero-sum game, but with compassion and focus can lead to wins for the whole world. And the personal story of an arch-technologist's response to dire medical news is fascinating. I will be recommending this to all my friends who want a primer on what's really going on with AI.” —Andrew Moore, dean, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
“Kai-Fu Lee offers an entertaining, insightful, and sobering look at the not-so-distant future of AI and China’s role in propelling it forward. Its pages expose our smugness over our own technological prowess and urge us to think carefully about the implications of AI for society and, indeed, humanity at large.” —Joi Ito, director, MIT Media Lab
“Kai-Fu Lee has written an essential book for our times. His lively, readable and personal perspective on China’s transformative achievements in technology and innovation is especially important—required reading for every policy maker, technologist, and business leader in the West.” —Marcus Brauchli, former executive editor, The Washington Post, and managing editor, The Wall Street Journal.
“Kaifu Lee is a legend on both sides of the Pacific. He deserves to be called a genius, because he has shown extraordinary intellect. He is not only an expert in technology, especially AI, but also an entrepreneur who has inspired so many to pursue their dreams. Only a handful of people aspire to change the world, and among them only a handful do. Lee belongs in that rare category, and in this book he offers all of us insight into how he thinks and how he has done what he has done.” —Frank H. Wu, president, the Committee of 100
“If you care about the future being brought to us by AI, this is the one indispensable book of 2018. If you're an entrepreneur, investor, or business leader, you'll relish the handicapping of the relative strengths of the US and China as AI superpowers, and the analysis of the stages by which AI will transform the economy. If you're a policymaker, you'll find here the recipe for a successful future human economy, even as more and more tasks are automated. Anyone who reads it will be reminded that AI does not change what really matters.” —Tim O’Reilly, founder, O’Reilly Media
“This masterful, moving, and intensely personal story illuminates the future of AI in China and the United States. For prosperity to be shared, Kai-Fu Lee’s voice must be heard. Simply a must-read for all.” —Stephen A. Orlins, president, National Committee on US-China Relations
“Kai-Fu Lee distinguishes himself from the multitude of pundits on AI that have emerged recently in that he has first-hand experience in research, corporate leadership and investment in the field, as well as deep working experience in the two leading AI powers in the world: US and China. This unique background gives him unmatched insight in this fast-evolving field. This is a timely and important book.” —Tony F.Chan, President of Hong Kong Univ of Science & Tech and former assistant director of the National Science Foundation
About the Author
Dr. Lee received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Columbia University, his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, and honorary doctorate degrees from the City University of Hong Kong and Carnegie Mellon. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Selected as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2013, he has authored ten U.S. patents and over a hundred journal and conference papers. He has written eight top-selling books in Chinese, and has more than 50 million followers on social media.
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The inciting incident for both Lee’s book and another comparable recent effort (Artificial Intuition: The Improbable Deep Learning Revolution, by Carlos Perez) is the recent victory in Go of an AI-based system over the best human champion of that ancient game. This had about the weight of an empty beer can in the USA and other Western news cycles, but shook the Asian intelligentsia at their core (because they care so much more about Go). Both Lee and Perez make a big deal out of the Go victory as a Sputnik moment, awakening entire East Asian populations, and their central planners, to the urgency of becoming the dominant AI superpower. Meanwhile, apart from some corporate research,
the USA snoozes blithely on. We may wake like Rip Van Winkle in 20 years (or 20 months) to find ourselves hopelessly lagging China. AI Superpowers skillfully exploits and intensifies the fear factor. A cynic would say the hidden agenda here is to trigger another 1980’s-style AI panic, when it seemed that Japan would conquer the world with their Prolog (logic programming) initiative. But I am not cynical. I appreciate this book on its own terms.
Anyway, after both books (Lee and Perez) lead off with humanity’s miserable Go game beatdown, they then diverge sharply in quality, and Lee quickly pulls way ahead of Perez. Where Perez gets lost in an impenetrable thicket of his own miserably confusing writing style and rambling topical garden paths (or garden mazes), Lee drives straight for the goal line: a clear and compelling picture of the current state of play, and a crisp delineation of where things will end up.
The depiction of China’s hi-technology business culture is the stronger element, relative to the presentation of AI as technology. Although Lee knows the tech methods and architectures inside and out, this is a popular treatment and you won’t encounter a single equation or circuit layout anywhere. Basically, you’ll get the key message that ‘narrow’ AI (task-specific systems that learn and perform well on human expert functions) has made a giant leap in a brief recent period. These systems are lumped under the term ‘deep learning’, an extension of a fairly simple neural modeling concept dating back to the 1950’s that has just now broken free of the pack and left the field behind. That breakout has been enabled by more data, more computing power, and some architectural upgrades to the original concept. Lee then zooms in on how fast and how furious the deep learning tsunami will hit.
AI Superpowers is strongest in its contrasting portraits of the Chinese high tech scene vs. the USA’s Silicon Valley. Lee offers numerous real-world cases illustrating parallels and divergences, sprinkled with entertaining personal tales from the trenches on both sides.
He traces the ascendance of China’s tech giants such as WeChat, AliBaba, and many others that aren’t household names in the West, digging deep into exactly how each one succeeded – pound for pound, blow by blow, user by user – a view from the trenches. Basically he portrays Chinese entrepreneurial high tech as sharing much in common with
organized crime, possibly minus the sicarios. (See the book Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel by Tom Wainwright if you want the real dirt.)
All that leads into Lee’s clear-sighted take on the employment implications of the new AI. Lee is no Elon Musk, in that he doesn’t see AI posing any immediate existential threat to the human species. Nor does he spend much ink on the roseate Kurzweil ‘singularity’ stuff (which is essentially religious fantasy in my view). True to form, Lee
moves soberly and smoothly, like the no-nonsense businessman he is, to consider something closer to home: the possible loss or diminution of up to 40% or more of current jobs with a decade or less. Many of these threats are well known, particularly the driverless vehicles thing, automated medical radiology, and many others. Analyses of this
type go back at least as far as Jeremy Rifkin’s classic The End of Work (1996) and many more recent treatments. But Lee’s examination is particularly lucid and right up to the minute in its full attention to the new AI (deep learning).
The book then takes a personal twist as Lee details his battle with an abrupt cancer diagnosis and how the recovery ordeal opened his eyes to elements of the emotional and social landscape he’d skated lightly past in his meteoric ascent to the top of the transPacific high tech dogpiles, both Silicon Valley and Zhongguancun. Newly sensitized to the human side of life, he prescribes human-to-human (or heart-to-heart) operations as something we can turn to, a need that will persist, even when all the truck driver spots dry up. This is a really laudable aspect of the book. How many tough tech exec’s and macho VC posers would have the spine to reveal this much of themselves and lay down their pugnacious facades, to go this deep? Truly admirable and unique.
In the final section, Dr. Lee offers his prescription, which is a social do-gooder program of make-work in areas that computers still have trouble with, such as cheering lonely elders and such. Lee believes government mandated social-service jobs programs have advantages over the resurgent Universal Basic Income proposals (basically air-dropping free money on people from helicopters).
The strengths of this book are the great high-tech anecdotes and ringside recent history accounts, the straight-forward descriptions of some key technical advances, and future directions, as well as the uniquely heart-centric infusion of that emo human touch in considering palliatives for the upcoming unemployment wave.
Minor downsides include a certain Chinese cultural chauvinism. Lee is very convincing in proudly calling out all the strengths of China relative to the West (basically, the USA) in the AI’s Brave New World. But he sometimes gets a little carried away. For example, he makes more than one admiring reference to a recent Chinese sci-fi hit, Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, which depicts a future world of extreme class and functional stratification.
That’s an appealing effort but hardly as unique as Lee seems to believe, given that this basic scenario was chillingly and unforgettably depicted in one of the very first science fiction novels ever published (The Time Machine by H. G. Wells - a future world of the surface dwelling Elio vs. the Morlocks, ape-like troglodytes who live in darkness underground and surface only at night). That’s just one example of several where Lee’s understandable cultural pride gets the better of his basically dispassionate instincts.
He also paints too strong a contrast between Silicon Valley culture and the organized crime ethos of Zhonguancun (China’s Silicon Valley). For example, Lee writes that the Valley (USA high tech culture) despises copycats. Is this true of Larry Ellison, secretly copying the original IBM research paper on relational databases that became the signature tech of Oracle? Is it true of Steve Jobs, ripping off for his Macintosh every element demonstrated to him on the Star office system when he toured the Palo Alto Xerox research lab one day? And we all know the saga of DOS and Windows. How original was Facebook? I could go on. And on. Things are more similar than different.
Where he really has a gift is in making concepts that would be way too scary or boring to a lay reader perfectly understandable and accessible. Here, Lee really shines. For just one of many examples, consider is his seamlessly smooth rendition of a blazing hot method in current AI research, Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). This would scare the pants off most lay readers if they encountered it in a technical book, but look how easily the medicine goes down when administered by Dr. Lee:
“Toutiao then used that labeled data to train an algorithm that could identify fake news in the wild. Toutiao even trained a separate algorithm to write fake news stories. It then pitted those two algorithms against each other, competing to fool one another and making each other better in the process.”
Rendering this powerful frontline concept perfectly lucid in a couple dozen words – that’s a gift (but again, note the touch of Chinese chauvinism, implying that Toutiao, a Chinese company, somehow thought up this approach for their own little application, while in fact the GAN configuration is entirely the innovation of a Western AI
But enough carping. It’s a very good book and well worth reading. Now the big question opens before us: after reading this, am I worried? Am I convinced to be at least as worried (yet cautiously hopeful) as Lee himself? No, I’m not worried at all, and here’s why.
First, some background. Despite the fact that these high-tech icons and visionaries pretend to revere intelligence and genius and talent and brains and innovation and creativity and all that, secretly every one of them must know that the greatest economic resource is not intelligence at all. The greatest economic resource, by far, is stupidity. They all know this, and now you know it too. I can prove it.
Consider where the economy would be if even a few sectors such as the following were entirely removed: soft drink industry; snack foods industry; global arms industry; all religions; makeup and cosmetic industry, including weight loss and cosmetic surgery; high end luxury brands of all kinds; most video games; most movies and popular entertainment; most of the ‘financial services’ industry – need I go on? Every one of the above sectors is based almost entirely on human stupidity. Or, at a minimum, none of them could function without a solid root in human stupidity. And that’s only the start.
Now consider the ramifications of just eliminating one item on that list, say, the soft drink and snack foods industry. That alone would probably eliminate up to 50% of current health care services required by the population. So the effects would ripple out everywhere. I could go on but you get the idea. The one essential economic resource is
not intelligence at all. It is stupidity. The human economy would grind to a dead halt without it. Whether human stupidity is exploited haphazardly by existing manual methods, or (in the near future) exploited and stimulated more efficiently via AI methods is immaterial.
That’s why I don’t see any great long term threat in AI. Or if there is any threat in AI, it isn’t the economic stuff called out by Lee, it’s more likely to be the existential stuff called out by Musk and others in his camp. But we’ve put that aside for this discussion, so within the terms of Lee’s book, we can expect clear sailing. Yes, AI will continue to advance, but in the words of one famous science fiction writer: ‘the street finds its own use for things’. Humans will adapt AI to their own unceasing pursuit of profit and pleasure through organized and unorganized crime and it all will be business as usual in the long run.
The only big effect will be that the AI mavens of today, the ‘smart ones’, will probably end up displacing themselves. We can do without intelligence (see above). The crucial resource is stupidity. The co-founder of Communism, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, once famously predicted that “when the time comes to hang the capitalists, they will rush to sell us
the rope”. Similarly, the Chinese rush to pull ahead in AI by throwing money and brains at it is likely merely accelerating the creation of their own successor species. That engineered new life form will likely put all the smart guys out of business yet retain some need for stupid feedstock, just as in the Matrix movies the AI’s ran the world but kept sleeping (stupid) humans as batteries.
But still - shouldn’t I be a bit more tremulous about the advent of our AI overlords? After all, it has been stated by one who should know that: With superintelligent computers that understand the universe on levels that humans cannot even conceive of, these machines become not just tools for lightening the burdens of humanity; they
approach the omniscience and omnipotence of a god.
Wow, AI’s will become ‘gods’. But even so, they will never be able to beat down the human race. Because we have our great ace in the hole, the one cognitive space we humans uniquely occupy, where by definition, no AI can follow. Before you hide under your bed, dig these words of wisdom:
“Against stupidity, the very gods themselves contend in vain.”
- Friedrich Schiller
Less than two months after AlphaGo's victory, China's central government issued an ambitious plan to build artificial intelligence capabilities. The plan included clear progress benchmarks for 2020 and 2025, an ultimate goal of becoming the world center of AI innovation by 2030, specifically envisioned AI playing major roles in improving/expanding Chinese healthcare and urban management (eg. security, traffic management), augmented by additional support for quantum computing and chip R&D, and new AI education initiatives in both primary and secondary schools. At the same time, in 2017 Chinese VC investors made up 48% of global AI venture funding, and surpassed the U.S. for the first time.
AI's big technical breakthrough occurred in 1986 when British researcher Geoffrey Hinton discovered how to efficiently train neural networks modeled after the human brain. It was called 'backpropagation,' and used to calculate factor weights - the centerpiece of 'deep learning' algorithms that are far easier to program and much more accurate than alternative rule-based 'expert-system' AI. (Experts 'guided' the computer's decisions by loading it with what human experts used as decision guidelines.)
Researchers since learned how to 'train' deep-learning computers to recognize faces and images, translate voice to print in real-time, operate autonomous vehicles, translate between languages, 'read' medical images, generate image captions, trade financial instruments, factory automation, colorize black-and-white images/videos, reinforcement learning, recommendation engines, grade/correct grammar, etc. Near future/in-process uses include 'transfer learning' (using a dog/cat classifier to classify eye scans in diagnosing diabetic retinopathy, and multi-task learning (sentiment, intent, and emotion detection).
The AlphaGo victory differed from IBM's Deep Blue defeat of chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Deep Blue had largely relied on customized hardware to rapidly generate and evaluate positions, aided by guiding heuristics from real-life chess champions. First, the board was only 8 X 8. Second, instead of trying to teach the computer rules mastered by human experts (the 'expert-system AI approach), they simply fed it lots and lots of data - and the computer then trained itself to recognize patterns and correlations connected to the desired outcome. Third, Big Blue's processing speed was much faster than AlphaGo's.
The age of synthesizing expertise in R&D (a U.S. strength) has now been replaced with the age of data (a Chinese strength). And now we're also transitioning from the age of discovery (a U.S. strength) to the age of implementation (a Chinese strength).
AI deep-learning algorithms need big data, computing power, and strong (but not necessarily elite) AI algorithm engineers. China lead in big data, and can produce enough algorithm engineers. Computing power is the big unknown.
Elite AI researchers provide the potential to push the field to the next level, but those advances have occurred rarely - remember, 'deep learning' was invented back in 1986. Meanwhile, the availability of data will be the driving force behind AI disruptions of countless industries around the world. Given much more data, an algorithm designed by a handful of mid-level AI engineers usually outperforms one designed by a world-class deep-learning researcher - thus, having a monopoly on the best and the brightest just isn't as important as it used to be.
Author Lee has spent decades in both Silicon Valley and China's tech scene. He contends that Silicon Valley is a sluggish implementer compared to the Chinese, that China is the world's most cutthroat competitive environment, and copying is an accepted practice. Cutting prices to the bone, smear campaigns, forcibly uninstalling competing software, and even reporting rivals to police were common practices. They also have a fanatical around-the-clock work ethic, and see the grand prize is getting rich - rather than filling a need.
China's central government is doing everything it can to tip the scales - pledging widespread support and funding for AI research, and encouraging local governments and educators to follow suit. Conversely, the U.S. government deliberately takes a hands-off approach to entrepreneurship, is slashing funds for basic research, and has not yet adopted a 'Sputnik' response aimed at boosting AI education. On the other hand, our current 'trade war' efforts vs. China likely are at least partly aimed at impeding China's AI initiatives.
China will soon match or overtake the U.S. in developing/deploying AI - despite America's superiority in college/university training. AI will translate into productivity gains on a scale not seen since the Industrial Revolution, adding nearly $16 trillion to global GDP by 2030 - with China taking $7 trillion of that, nearly double North America's $3.7 share. Billions of jobs up and down the economic ladder will be wiped out - an estimated 40 - 50% of jobs in the U.S.
China's advantages in this AI race include: strong government support and leadership, public-school achievement levels in major urban areas that far outpace those in America, a populace already used to and accepting of surveillance, more competitive entrepreneurs, its much larger population (more data) and more integrated personal data.
Efforts to limit U.S. immigration (over half of Silicon Valley STEM workers with a bachelor's degree or above are foreign born) and H1-B visas could easily harm our AI competitiveness. Another impediment - Google employees refusing to work on defense/privacy-related projects for the U.S. government. A third - Teamster efforts to ban/limit autonomous trucks, and fuel-saving 'drafting' on Interstate highways. Others - concerns over healthcare and education data privacy, resistance to the time consumed in statewide pupil testing programs.
Ai naturally tends to create winner-take-all economics. More data leads to better products, they attract more users, that generates more data that further improves the product. This added cash also attracts top AI talent to top companies, widening the gap between leaders and laggards. Former geographical limits will be weakened by autonomous trucks and drones that dramatically slash shipping/delivery costs - and reduce previous dispersion of profits across companies and regions.
AI-driven factory automation will also undercut the one advantage developing countries possess - cheap labor. The gap between global haves and have-nots will widen.
Widespread unemployment and gaping inequality will undermine the purpose of innumerable humans.
What type of jobs are most likely to survive? Examples include medical practitioners with less diagnostic skills who are trained to empathetically deliver adverse diagnoses such as cancer, teachers trained to support computer individualized instruction systems, positions requiring creativity and/or cross-functional thinking (eg. lawyers).
Top international reviews
Kai-Fu Lee hingegen ist der Meinung, dass unser Erfolgsmodell in Zukunft nicht mehr funktionieren wird: Künstliche Intelligenz (KI) und die chinesische Art und Weise, damit umzugehen, werden seiner Ansicht nach schon bald zu einer weltweiten tektonischen Kräfte- und Macht-Verschiebung führen. In China gilt Kai-Fu Lee als Superstar, der nicht nur bei Apple und Microsoft gearbeitet, sondern auch den Aufbau von Google China verantwortet hat.
Sehr aufschlussreich sind seine Ausführungen, warum wir im Westen die Copycat-Diskussionen zu chinesischen Internet-Unternehmen falsch einschätzen. Während wir in der westlichen Kultur die Idee für das wichtigste Element halten, steht in der chinesischen Kultur die erfolgreiche Umsetzung im Fokus. Ja, es sind viele chinesischen Unternehmen mit Ideen von westlichen Unternehmen an den Start gegangen. Aber Lee zeigt, dass die Lern- und Anpassungsfähigkeit vieler chinesischer Internet-Unternehmen erheblich konsequenter und erfolgreicher ist, als die Execution-Power der viel gepriesenen Silicon Valley Unternehmen, denen wir in Europa nacheifern.
Aus dieser Kultur sind Unternehmen entstanden wie Alibaba, Tencent oder Xiaomi. die im Westen inzwischen auch einige kennen. Doch wenigen ist bewusst, dass deren Geschwindigkeit und Innovationskraft die meisten westlichen Unternehmen klar in den Schatten stellt.
Möglich macht solche Erfolge aus Sicht von Lee nicht nur die chinesische Kultur des Ausprobierens und Anpassens, sondern vor allem der staatlich geförderte Umgang mit Daten. Künstliche Intelligenz funktioniert mit Milliarden von Datensätzen besser als mit Millionen Datensätzen. Die nicht vorhandenen Datenschutzgesetze und die Kultur, dass viele persönliche Daten quasi frei verfügbar sind, bieten einen idealen Nährboden für die KI- Nutzung in China.
Dies lässt sich inzwischen auch anhand der Zahlen für Patentanmeldungen klar nachvollziehen. China ist dabei, die USA als Vorreiter von KI-Systemen zu überholen. In der Analyse zeigt Lee, wie dies im Einzelnen geschieht und wann und warum mit einer chinesischen Überlegenheit zu rechnen ist.
KI ist die neue Allzwecktechnologie, so wie seinerzeit die Dampfmaschine oder Elektrizität. Und zum ersten Mal in der Geschichte führt nicht Europa die weitere Entwicklung an, sondern China.
Wir werden uns daher damit auseinandersetzen müssen, dass unsere Wertvorstellungen in Zukunft nur noch mit großen persönlichen Opfern und massiven Einschnitten in unseren Wohlstand verteidigt werden können. Denn bislang haben sich unsere demokratischen Wertvorstellungen, die Stellung des Individuums und die Persönlichkeitsrechte (wie z.B. der Datenschutz) prima mit dem Kapitalismus als Wirtschaftssystem ergänzt. Bisher war es also einfach, unsere Werte im Zusammenspiel von Wachstum und wirtschaftlichem Erfolg hoch zu halten.
Wenn nun die chinesischen Werte einen besseren und schnelleren wirtschaftlichen Erfolg durch Einsatz von KI bringen, werden wir dann unsere Werte verteidigen und Opfer bringen? Oder werden wir unsere - vor allem europäischen - Werte auf dem Altar des wirtschaftlichen Erfolgs opfern?
Vielleicht werden wir dazu aber auch gar keine Gelegenheit mehr haben. Denn wenn wir uns weiterhin in hässlichen Verteilungskämpfen selbst zerlegen, wie wir es mit dem Brexit begonnen haben, werden wir den Wandel gar nicht mehr schnell genug hinbekommen.
Zwar versucht Lee, sein Buch mit einem Konzept zu humanitärer Nutzung von KI zu beenden. Aber das sind wahrscheinlich nur Utopien, die nicht zum Tragen kommen, solange wir keine neuen Ideen entwickeln, um Wirtschaft und Effizienz im Zeitalter von KI an verschiedene kulturelle Wertekonzepte zu koppeln.
Ein Must-Read für alle, die ein Gespür davon bekommen wollen, wie KI im Umfeld von unterschiedlichen Kultur-Konzepten unsere Zukunft beeinflussen kann und wird.
AI Superpowers Book Review:
AI has slowly but surely crept into our lives. Although many dismiss AI as some far fetched figment of our imagination which could affect us in the future , AI is already controlling many aspects of our lives, Google employs AI marketing teams which analyse user data to target more personalised ads that a user is more likely to click on and thus create more revenue for google. AI softwares are used by banks to analyse the credit scores of potential loan seekers to asses the likelihood of the loan being paid. Machine learning algorithms such as Google’s TensorFlow harness and analyse the data of millions of patients with terminal illness to determine the length of time they have left to live, with a much higher degree of accuracy with no pessimism or over optimism over the period a patient has to live resulted in less grief for the patient and their families.
For many AI seems to be a direct threat to their jobs, such as those who work in the information processing sector, as AI is able to complete their service with increased speed and efficiency and the added benefits of low maintenance, no salary and no sick or maternity leave. Workers who have found themselves at risk of automation have petitioned for ‘shielding’. Truck drivers from across America (1.5 million people) signed a petition against automation of their sector and presented it to congress. After much heated debate, the US government accepted their pleas to shield the truck driver sector and called for automation in the truck driving sector to be deemed unconstitutional. This was just one of many examples of jobs which could be lost in their near future.
In his book, Kai-Fu Lee asses the AI landscape, job losses, job gains, power and leadership in AI. He narrowed the struggle for AI supremacy down to the battle of the two ‘superpowers’ China and the United States. China was downright backward for the forty years leading up to the monumental Go match in 2016, Go, a Chinese game of much strategy and skill meant to resemble the battlefield dates to ancient China 2,500 years ago. Lee Sedol a world renowned Go player was confident but also had an aura of worry leading up to the Go match, it was a game he treasured and much respected, he felt as though he was representing himself and the great Go masters before. It was only 20 minutes into the game when he felt s though that everything was going downhill, the machine was conducting moves that no human had ever seen before, moves so unique in their fashion that meant they could be done by a machine. This dispelled the long-held belief the machines could not be creative or original. Lee had lost. The whole China was shocked, its greatest player was outdone by a player with no soul, a machine which had only learnt the game of Go for 4 hours yet it had beaten its greatest ever player. This loss, this ‘Sputnik moment’, spurred China into an era of technological progress on a scale never seen imagined before. The US however, had around 40 years of time to experiment with AI, it had been in the game for far longer than China, yet China was almost advanced (and as advanced) as it was it was across all technological sectors. This caused the USA to be suddenly put in motion and started a technological arms race fuelled by data and data processing and the need to succeed.
After the historic Go match, however, the machine felt no happiness for itself, nor any empathy for its fallen opponent. Kai- Fu Lee states that even decades into AI’s development the only thing that AI could possibly lack was the feeling of human love and empathy. Mr Lee proposes that the sector of human care services to be expanded and to be given higher pay and higher status within society on par with that of doctors or lawyers. He believes that for us to jump into a utopia rather than a dystopia, our future must be in the care sector, and that jobs such as nurse or care or midwife are often underpaid and undervalued. This must change.
1) The point of AI is to reallocate units of labor from people to machines, with the profit that was once a working wage being transferred to a small collective of grossly wealthy individuals.
2) In the future corporate tax rates will likely be assessed on the ratio of robots/AI to Humans in a company. Robots don't buy homes and pay taxes, the company employing them will need to pick up the slack.
3) Government's legislating Robot % maximums will alter manual labor outsourcing in the future.
4) Wealthy people better start investing in personal security, the chasm this will create between haves and have not's can only end in civil wars between those with nothing to lose and those with everything to lose. (feels a bit like feudalism, I will feed and clothe you, and you will defend me). Are we really evolving?
5) The world leaders need to pull together to write new international laws enforced in all countries with the focus on the future of humanity. This business of paying people fair wages without a job will only create a planet full of unfulfilled purposeless people.
AI is a race to joblessness and the price is our souls. It's one thing to use Apps and algorithms to improve our lives thru access to fast valuable information, problem solving and the cure for disease, its an entirely different thing to use them to devalue a persons worth to society so a handful of people can extract their value. SAD.
“But where was China in all this? The truth is, the story of the birth of deep learning took place almost entirely in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The great majority of China’s technology community didn’t properly wake up to the deep-learning revolution until its Sputnik Moment in 2016…
During the age of AI discovery, progress was driven by a handful of elite thinkers, virtually all of whom were clustered in the United States and Canada…” Indeed, the number 1 textbook on artificial intelligence, “Deep Learning” is co-written by University of Montreal professors Yoshua Bengio and Aaron Courville, and Bloomberg’s video “The Rise of AI” explains how Canada became an AI superpower.
“Of the hundreds of companies pouring resources into AI research, seven have emerged as the new giants of corporate AI research – Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. These Seven Giants have, in effect, morphed into what nations were fifty years ago – that is, large and relatively closed-off systems that concentrate talent and resources on breakthroughs that will mostly remain “in house.”…
If the next deep learning revolution is destined to be discovered in the corporate world, Google has the best shot at it. Among the Seven AI Giants, Google – more precisely, its parent company, Alphabet, which owns DeepMind and its self-driving subsidiary Waymo – stands head and shoulders above the rest. In terms of funding, Google dwarfs even its own government. U.S. federal funding for math and computer science research amounts to less than half of Google’s own R&D budget…
The headquarters of my venture-capital fund is located in Zhongguancun (pronounced “jong-gwan-soon”) neighborhood, an area often referred to as “the Silicon Valley of China.” Today, Zhongguancun is the beating heart of China’s AI movement. To people here, the AI AlphaGo’s victories over human Go champions were both a challenge and an inspiration. They turned into China’s “Sputnik Moment” for artificial intelligence…
AlphaGo scored its first high-profile victory in March 2016 during a five-game series against the legendary Korean player Lee Sedol, winning four to one. While barely noticed by most Americans, the five games drew more than 280 million Chinese viewers. Overnight, China plunged into an artificial intelligence fever…
AlphaGo runs on deep learning, a ground-breaking approach to artificial intelligence that has turbocharged the cognitive capabilities of machines. Deep-learning-based programs can now do a better job than humans at identifying faces, recognizing speech, and issuing loans. For decades, the artificial intelligence revolution always looked to be five years away. But with the development of deep learning over the past few years, that revolution has finally arrived. It will usher in an era of massive productivity increases but also widespread disruptions in labor markets – and profound socio-psychological effects on people – as artificial intelligence takes over human jobs in all sorts of industries...
During the Ke Jie match, it wasn’t the AI-driven killer robots some prominent technologists warn of that frightened me. It was the real-world demons that could be conjured up by mass unemployment and the resulting social turmoil. The threat to jobs is coming far faster than most experts anticipated, and it will not discriminate by the color of one’s collar, instead striking the highly trained and poorly educated alike,,,
The AI world order inequality will not be contained within national borders. China and the United States have already jumped out to an enormous lead over all the other countries in artificial intelligence, setting the stage for a new kind of bipolar world order. Several other countries – the United Kingdom, France, and Canada, to name a few – have strong AI research labs staffed with great talent, but they lack the venture-capital ecosystem and large user bases to generate the data that will be key in the age of implementation that follows the age of discovery.” (cf. the Silicon Valley 150, and CB Insights Complete List of Unicorn Companies)
“Whatever gaps exist between China and the United States, those differences will pale in comparison between these two AI superpowers and the rest of the world. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs love to describe their products as “democratizing access,” “connecting people,” and, of course, “making the world a better place.” That vision of technology as a cure-all for global inequality has always been somewhat of a wistful mirage, but in the age of AI it could turn into something far more dangerous. If left unchecked, AI will dramatically exacerbate inequality on both international and domestic levels…
The AI world order will combine winner-take-all economics with an unprecedented concentration of wealth in the hands of a few companies in China and the United States. This, I believe, is the real underlying threat posed by artificial intelligence: tremendous social disorder and political collapse stemming from widespread unemployment and gaping inequality…”
Indeed, in his book on AI, “Life 3.0”, MIT professor Max Tegmark illustrates the rising tide of occupations that AIs can accomplish better than humans, which could soon be almost all occupations. And in his book “Cultural Evolution”, World Values Survey lead researcher Ronald Inglehart describes how we are already entering a world of AI-accelerated inequality.
“Silicon Valley’s and China’s internet ecosystems grew out of very different cultural soil. Entrepreneurs in the valley are often the children of successful professionals, such as computer scientists, dentists, engineers and academics. Most Chinese tech entrepreneurs are at most one generation away from grinding poverty that stretches back centuries. Their ultimate goal is to make money, and they’re willing to create any product, adopt any model, or go into any business that will accomplish that objective…”
The fact that AI development in China is motivated first and foremost by materialist values of making money, is of concern to those with postmaterialist values, such as protecting human rights (cf. “Google Employees Protest Secret Work on Censored Search Engine for China”, New York Times, August 16, 2018).
According to the 2018 Freedom House Ranking, the countries with the greatest respect for human rights are 1. (TIE) Finland, Norway and Sweden 2. (TIE) Canada and Netherlands 3. (TIE) Australia, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Uruguay 4. Denmark. And Canada’s respect for human rights is now attracting AI talent from around the world (cf. “A Trump Dividend for Canada? Maybe in its AI Industry”, New York Times, May 9, 2017). This means that for now at least, Canada is still an AI superpower, a position Prime Minister Trudeau is keen to defend.
“Some predict that with the dawn of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), machines that can improve themselves will trigger runaway growth in computer intelligence. Often called “the singularity,” or artificial superintelligence, this future involves computers whose ability to understand and manipulate the world dwarfs our own, comparable to the intelligence between human beings and, say, insects.
DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis predicts that the creation of superintelligence will allow human civilization to solve intractable problems, producing inconceivably brilliant solutions to global warming and previously incurable diseases.
Not everyone, however, is so optimistic. Elon Musk has called superintelligence “the biggest risk we face as a civilization,” comparing the creation of it to “summoning the demon.” Intellectual celebrities such as the late cosmologist Stephen Hawking have joined Musk in the dystopian camp, many of them inspired by Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence.”
For his part in “Life 3.0” MIT professor Max Tegmark writes:
“Suppose a bunch of ants create you to be a recursively self-improving robot, much smarter than them, who shares their goals and helps build bigger and better anthills, and that you eventually attain the human-level intelligence and understanding that you have now. Do you think you’ll spend the rest of your days just optimizing anthills, or do you think you might develop a taste for more sophisticated questions and pursuits that the ants have no ability to comprehend? If so, do you think you’ll find a way to override the ant-protection urge that your formicine creators endowed you with, in much the same way that the real you overrides some of the urges your genes have given you? And in that case, might a superintelligent friendly AI find our current human goals as uninspiring and vapid as you find those of the ants, and evolve new goals different from those it learned and adopted from us?
Perhaps there’s a way of designing a self-improving AI that’s guaranteed to retain human-friendly goals forever, but I think it’s fair to say that we don’t yet know how to build one – or even whether it’s possible.”
Overall, AI Superpowers is an entertaining and informative read. Recommended!