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Our Expert Voices conversation on artificial intelligence.

Creating a machine that exhibits the same general skills and flexibility as a human brain is still a long way away. In fact, I'm confident that no existing technology will lead to an artificial general intelligence. We will need a wild new idea to make that happen. I'd guess there's a 5 percent chance that someone will make this kind of breakthrough in any decade.

Where will this breakthrough take place? At this point, it's a numbers game, depending on which country has the most computer scientists, either homegrown or imported.

Based on that logic, I would bet strongly on China.

The international implications are enormous. Economists predict that increased deployment of even the limited form of AI we have now could boost GDP by 2 percent annually through 2035. AI is critical to national defense and is a powerful resource for tackling challenges in health care, food production and manufacturing.

Bottom line: Given the stakes, it should be a U.S. priority to increase the quantity and quality of AI researchers that we train and recruit.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Updated 11 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 14 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 14 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.