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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

Biden says $1,400 stimulus payments can start going out this month

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden said Saturday that the Senate passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package means the $1,400 direct payments for most Americans can begin going out later this month.

Driving the news: The Senate voted 50-49 Saturday to approve the sweeping legislation. The House is expected to pass the Senate's version of the bill next week before it heads to Biden's desk for his signature.

6 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 drives smell loss awareness, research

A health worker carries out an olfactory test outside Buenos Aires. Photo: Alejandro Pagni/AFP via Getty Images

The pandemic has thrust a relatively unknown ailment, anosmia — or smell loss — into the international spotlight.

Why it matters: Researchers hope smell testing becomes as standard as the annual flu shot, helping to detect early signs of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.