US Won’t Lose Its AI Lead to China Anytime Soon, Inflection AI CEO Says
AI leader says people “worry too much” that China will overtake US on artificial intelligence technology.
China's tech sector is racing to gain ground on developing artificial intelligence technology, but Google DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman predicts the US will still be in the lead 10 years from now.
“I'm pretty sure of that. The fundamentals in the US innovation ecosystem are unquestionably the best in the world,” said Suleyman, whose latest venture is Inflection AI, a startup valued at $4 billion. “Without doubt, Silicon Valley is leading the pack, and I think we'll continue to. I think we worry too much that we're going to sort of be dislodged from our podium position.”
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Suleyman made the remarks during an interview for the latest episode of the Bloomberg Originals series AI IRL, available to stream now.
US officials are particularly concerned about China's ability to leverage AI for military purposes. In August, the Biden administration imposed restrictions on US investments in Chinese semiconductor, quantum computing and AI firms, citing national security concerns. Last month, it announced additional measures to curb China's access to advanced semiconductors capable of training AI algorithms.
Despite US efforts to hamstring China's AI progress, technology companies and entrepreneurs in the world's second largest economy are still vying to claim a stake in the AI boom. Chinese startup 01.AI, which was founded by computer scientist Kai-Fu Lee, developed an open-source, large language model that outperformed some of Silicon Valley's leading systems on certain metrics. Baidu Inc. also recently claimed its large language model is as good as OpenAI's GPT-4.
Still, recent advancements shouldn't be conflated with China having an edge in AI overall, said Helen Toner, director of strategy and foundational research grants at Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology.
“I think it's also very possible to overestimate them. Are they a serious competitor? Yes. Are they eating our lunch? No,” said Toner, serves on OpenAI's board of directors.
While Suleyman is convinced the US isn't at risk of losing its lead, he isn't writing off the competition either. “I just think overall it's better to take an approach of humility, acknowledging that they're also going to be a really significant player in this field over the next few decades,” he said.
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