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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Struggles and regulations are undermining China's AI competition with the USA


China's progress in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) was on full display at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai.



The event showcased impressive innovations, reflecting China's determination to establish itself as a global leader in AI. However, despite the country's ambitious efforts, it continues to lag behind its biggest competitor, the United States.


While companies like Baidu have made significant advancements in AI, particularly in the development of language-based programs, experts agree that China still falls slightly behind the US. Several factors contribute to this disparity.


Firs, while China possesses abundant data in certain areas such as facial recognition, limited access to the vast amount of information available on the internet hinders its progress. Additionally, although China boasts exceptional talent, the relocation of AI centers by companies like Microsoft may restrict access to top talent in the future.


China's hardware and software development also face challenges. In particular, export regulations imposed by the US have impeded China's access to cutting-edge chips and technology.


So, despite the brilliance of Chinese AI developers, limited access to these essential components is a significant limiting factor to their advancements. This issue was a prominent topic of discussion at the conference, with concerns raised about China's ability to develop rapidly without access to crucial resources.


However, China does have advantages in specific areas. In the remote town of Bainiaohe in Guizhou province, multiple companies are engaged in "data labeling," a crucial aspect of AI development. China's advantage lies in its access to affordable and plentiful labor, with students actively participating in data labeling alongside their studies. This creates an environment conducive to progress and economic opportunities.


While China possesses strengths in people power, its heavy-handed regulation poses potential drawbacks. The country already heavily censors information, and draft AI regulations emphasize alignment with "core socialist values." Experts believe that China's regulatory approach is more stringent than that of other countries, potentially holding the industry back. The broad and uncertain nature of these regulations creates hesitancy among tech companies, hindering their innovative potential.


As the AI race intensifies, China's struggle to catch up with the US becomes apparent. While impressive strides have been made, obstacles such as limited access to essential resources and heavy-handed regulation pose challenges. Balancing the need for innovation with effective regulation will be crucial for China to enhance its competitiveness on the global AI stage.


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