Book Review Number 31

AI Super-Powers – China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order – Kai-Fu Lee

The author is a world class authority on artificial intelligence (AI) with substantial professional training and experience in both the United States and China. He argues that unprecedented developments in AI will bring about dramatic changes in the world’s social order. And he says that is going to happen much faster than many believe.

The author defines the United States and China as the world’s 21st century AI super-powers. He identifies the four main building blocks that these countries posses that make them AI super-powers:  abundant data, tenacious entrepreneurs, well-trained AI scientists, and a supportive policy environment. In his view no other countries are currently, or in the foreseeable future, likely to be able to challenge their technological power in AI leadership. Therefore, he says China and America have great responsibility for the societal disruption that is coming with their significant power in driving an AI revolution. 

The author makes the case that the AI revolution is fundamentally different from any previous technological developments during the industrial age, including the steam engine and electrification. He predicts it will cause previously unknown levels of disruption of the economic and social fabric of society throughout the world. His estimate is that within the next decade or so 40% to 50% of current jobs in the US could be replaced by AI systems, which if unplanned for and/or improperly managed will likely destabilize society in general. According to the author, AI adaptation is coming in 4 waves: internet AI; business AI; perception AI; and autonomous AI, all of which he describes in detail. He also discusses the relative strengths of the US and China in each of these areas.

The author offers his view of how governments, businesses, and people should respond to these changes to protect society as a whole. Whether you are conservative or liberal, economist or technologist, blue collar or white collar you should read this book or another volume on the subject of AI so you have some idea of what may face us soon.

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