China to Overtake US in AI Research

The most detailed analysis of Chinese AI research papers yet suggests that China is gaining on the US more quickly than previously thought. China may overtake the US with the best AI research in just two years, according to the new study by the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. The institute previously created a tool, called Semantic Scholar, that uses artificial intelligence to make it easier to search and analyze scientific research papers published online.

According to the analysis, China overtook the US in the number of AI research papers in 2006 due to a surge in published research that began around 2001 and peaked in 2010 (long before the Chinese government’s 2017 announcement).

Oren Etzioni, CTO of Ai2 and a leading AI researcher said:

Our economy and security has benefited greatly from the cutting-edge research being homegrown in our universities and research institutes. If we move to second place, will the next Google be founded here or in China? It’s not a zero-sum game, but it isn’t a picnic either.

Anthony Mullen, Anthony Mullen, a director of research at analyst firm Gartner said:

Right now, AI is a two-horse race between China and the US. China has all the ingredients it needs to move into first. These include government funding, a massive population, a lively research community, and a society that seems primed for technological change.

To build great AI, you need data, and nothing produces data quite like humans. This mean’s China’s massive 1.4 billion population (including some 730 million internet users) might be its biggest advantage. These citizens produce reams of useful information that can be mined by the country’s tech giants, and China is also significantly more permissive when it comes to users’ privacy. For the purposes of building AI, this compares favorably with European countries and their citizen-centric legislation.

If current trends continue, China is poised to overtake the US in the most-cited 50% of papers this year, in the most-cited 10% of papers next year, and in the 1% of most-cited papers by 2025. Citation counts are a lagging indicator of impact, so our results may understate the rising impact of AI research originating in China.

The complete study can be found on Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence’s Medium page.