“The threat is real, very real,” warns Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and current chairman of the U.S. National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. He is referring to China, a rival over which they do not have as much of a technology advantage as one might think.
The US is “one or two years ahead of China, but not 5 or 10,” Schmidt has warned during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. In the expert’s view, China is ahead of the US in sectors such as facial recognition.
US only “a year or two” ahead of China in AI and emerging technologies but China is close to becoming a technology leader
One of the arguments to justify this Chinese approach is the ease of sharing technological advances. “We can expect that any open source innovations in the field of AI will be adopted by China,” explains Schmidt.
Among the sectors that the US wants to promote to strengthen its position concerning China are semiconductors and quantum computing. To this end, they are preparing a $100 billion technology fund to try to increase this gap.
China presented its “New Generation AI Development Plan” in 2017, intending to make China a world reference in artificial intelligence by 2030.
According to the former Google CEO, the U.S. should “urgently” boost sectors such as artificial intelligence. But AI is only one of the 14 fields identified as key to national security. We must also count 5G, biotechnology, or quantum computing. It is precisely in these sectors that the US has imposed blockades and restrictions on China.
I suggest that we change American naiveté with some kind of incentive system to close this gap with China and place those semiconductor factories in the United States to use for commercial, but also military purposes,” Schmidt concludes.
Aware of this battle, Europe is working to develop its semiconductor industry to be less dependent on the other powers and have greater technological independence. It is a battle to lead different technological sectors in which China is becoming an increasingly important player.