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China declares AI war with U.S.

Go. (Sean Welton / Creative Commons)

Beijing responded its usual way when, one after the other, Google's AlphaGo beat first a South Korean master of the board game Go, and then China's Ke Jie, the world's top player: It blocked live coverage of its champion's humiliation.

  • But now that Go debacle has led China to a Sputnik moment, per the NYT.
  • In a plan released Thursday, China declared that it will catch up to the U.S. in AI research by 2020, and a decade later, "become the world's premier artificial intelligence innovation center."
  • Why it matters: For years, technologists and geo-strategists have called AI a turning point in tech, economics and society. Although comprehensive numbers aren't out there, the indication is that China intends to spend much, much more on AI research than the U.S. in coming years, in addition to the colossal foothold already grabbed by Chinese giants Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba.