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China hosts World Artificial Intelligence Conference


China hosts World Artificial Intelligence Conference

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Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee

Tech start-ups and corporations from around the globe will meet virtually today for the three-day annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference.

The conference’s original Shanghai setting reflects the Chinese government’s view of AI primacy as a top national priority. This ambition, outlined in 2017, aims to foster domestic technological prowess and develop a $143 billion AI market by 2030. The government has pledged $2.1 billion for an AI industrial park outside of Beijing and provided generous R&D subsidies for domestic tech juggernauts such as Huawei, Tencent and Baidu.

China’s pursuit of AI dominance comes amid growing suspicion of the country’s geopolitical intentions in North American and European spheres. As experts have suggested that Chinese AI could be leveraged to provide military or intelligence services, the US has taken a hardline stance in the 5G space, including comprehensive sanctions against Huawei. Over the next decade, AI will likely become a point of increasing tension between Beijing and Washington. If the gap in AI capabilities widens, concerns over international security and economic leverage will likely strain diplomatic relationships and boost the likelihood of long-term protectionist policies.

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