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Forum: US should focus on own tech, not China's

By CHANG JUN in Santa Clara, California | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-05-07 22:44
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The United States should stop lamenting China's technological innovation and advancements in artificial intelligence and instead focus on investing in American education and science research, experts from both countries said.

At Saturday's Committee of 100 (C100) annual conference, which was held in Silicon Valley this year, Feifei Li, chief scientist at Google Cloud AI/ML and director at the Stanford AI Lab and Vision Lab, said the Trump administration should continue to invest in basic science, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, research and public universities, so as to "invest in the future".

In response to skepticism and concern in the US that China will overtake the United States in AI research and application, Li said "there will be always competition (in science and tech innovation)," but the fundamental question for the US government to ask itself is whether America has its own plan and strategy to move ahead in technology development.

China's State Council in 2017 unveiled a national AI development guideline, calling for developing technology, research and educational resources in AI to achieve major breakthroughs by 2025 and make China an AI innovation center by 2030.

It is China's first comprehensive guideline on AI, and experts are now deploying AI technologies in visual image recognition, visual tracking, rendezvous and docking, navigation and positioning, mission planning and spacecraft fault diagnosis.

In contrast, the Trump administration has proposed cutting the federal budget, which would eliminate some research programs that affect NASA, energy research, and climate and environmental science programs.

"If the US is not willing to increase its investment in science, technology and AI, then no amount of measures against China through tariffs, through other restrictions (that are) going to keep the United States' leadership (in those fields)," Gary Locke, former US ambassador to China, said at the C100 summit luncheon.

Locke said it's ironic that some US politicians who criticized China for its decades-long low-end economy of high pollution are now objecting to China shifting toward an innovation-and-tech-based economy.

"It's only natural for China (to transform in this direction)," he said.

Meanwhile, Li emphasized that "science fundamentally has no borders. Not a company nor a country owns the technology," she said, adding that she wants to see AI developed for the good of humanity.

"At the end of the day, we will all benefit."

"We can develop new companies and technologies. There is tremendous value to the consumers," said Jonathan Woetzel, director at the McKinsey Global Institute, on the vibrant dialogue between tech entrepreneurship between Silicon Valley and China. 

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