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Report: China leads U.S. on AI funding but trails on talent

Two-thirds of global AI investment today goes to China, ballooning the value of China’s AI market by 67% from 2016 to 2017 and threatening to rob the U.S. of its tenuous AI lead, according to a new study from China’s Tsinghua University.

Why it matters: The U.S. and China are jockeying to be an AI superpower, as private investors and governments pour money into research in both countries. The U.S. has a serious talent edge over China for now, but China’s funding advantage keeps it in the running, as top universities like Tsinghua turn out high-quality researchers.

The big picture: The U.S. still has a solid talent advantage. According to the study, which was reported on in the South China Morning Post:

  • China’s AI talent pool made up just under 9% of the global total, compared to nearly the 14% of AI talent that’s in the U.S.
  • When it comes to high-level talent — the best of the best — the gap is even wider: China has one-fifth the top talent that the U.S. has.
  • The U.S. and Japan trail China in number of AI patents, and China leads in the quantity of research papers produced and the number of times they’re cited.