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Surveillance in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Photo: Colin McPherson / Corbis / Getty

For all China's vaunted reams of data and outsized R&D spending, its development of artificial intelligence is only half as good as the United States', according to a side-by-side assessment by an Oxford University researcher.

Quick take: "I think some of the rhetoric about China's AI advances has been overblown," says Jeffrey Ding at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute. He tells Axios, "The U.S. still has significant advantages in talent and hardware, and it should continue to ensure that talented researchers and scientists want to work and stay in the U.S."

In a long, must-read report, Ding uses an index in order to parse China's AI capabilities. He finds:

  • The U.S. is ahead in all AI metrics except the volume of data to which it has access. Even there, Chinese AI has the benefit of much more data; but it is all Chinese data, collected at home, and thus narrow.
  • Taking into context the variables he identified, he finds that Chinese capabilities are about half the United States'.
  • AI ethics are an issue in China, just as they are in the West.

Be smart: China's AI experts have carved out one specialized niche: public surveillance, which uses facial and image recognition software. The state has supported a number of companies, such as Alibaba-backed SenseTime, in pushing China ahead in this AI arena, writes Quartz's Josh Horwitz.

  • AI-based facial recognition software is at the core of China's "social credit" rating, which monitors citizens and helps to determine their freedom of movement. eligibility for a job, and access to a mortgage, writes CBS's Ben Tracy.
  • According to Ding, China’s Ministry of Public Security is building the world's largest archive of facial monitoring data.
  • "China’s AI development could provide a model of 'robust authoritarianism' that might appeal to other nations," Ding writes. But he says it doesn't have to turn out that way: "China could also beneficially contribute to peaceful governance and ethical norms for AI technologies. A clear-eyed assessment of its AI strategy is essential to deciphering how China will realize its AI dream."

Go deeper: An analysis of China's plan for dominating AI.

Go deeper

Why companies aren't paying more

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If companies raised pay high enough, then maybe they wouldn’t complain about labor shortages that have forced them to forgo sales. But there seems to be a limit to how much a company is willing to pay, despite what seems like a clear opportunity to maximize the top line.

Why it matters: Companies have been scrambling to staff up amid a rapid economic recovery. Employers across industries have been raising wages in their efforts to be competitive.

Business travel might be going out of style

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies have made it a year and a half mostly without traveling for work — and now more and more of them are considering dramatically reducing business travel to slash costs and cut carbon emissions.

Why it matters: Business travel is a massive part of the global economy — with trillions of dollars and millions of jobs at airlines, hotels and travel agencies hinging on its return.

Local Florida leaders eye ways to take on DeSantis' anti-mask stance

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

With Florida at the forefront of the nation's COVID surge, local governments across Tampa Bay are wondering if — or how — they can subvert Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration to do something to slow the spread.

Why it matters: A day after Florida broke its record for daily cases, it did the same for the total number of COVID hospitalizations — set way back in July 2020, per the AP.

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