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Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence?

POINT ROBERTS, Wash. and DELTA, British Columbia, Feb. 19, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Investorideas.com, a global investor news source covering Artificial Intelligence issues a special edition of The AI Eye, looking at the battle for dominance between the US and China.

On February 11, President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence. The document stresses the importance of AI in propelling the US economy and cites current American global leadership in terms of R&D and deployment of AI as justifications for ramping up federal government commitments to promote the technology.

Though it is not explicitly mentioned in the document, many commentators felt that the growing rivalry with China in the AI space influenced the President’s executive order. Rob Verger, writing for Popular Science, captured the impression of those commentators when he observed: “Competition with China is a big part of the subtext to this announcement…”

Some US AI companies were quick to respond. An article published the same day on The Hill quotes IBM:

"Today’s order is a critical step in the launch of America’s national AI strategy. We commend and welcome the order’s emphasis on specific priorities that IBM had recommended, such as the ethical advancement of AI, expanding 21st century apprenticeship opportunities to build an AI-ready workforce, leveraging government data to accelerate AI development that can deliver shared prosperity, and prioritizing AI in federal research and development.”

The contents of the executive order were anticipated by Ian Buck, VP and General Manager of NVIDIA’s (NasdaqGS:NVDA) Tesla Data Center Business, when he opined that the government was best suited to direct investment.

“There’s simply no replacement for the federal government significantly increasing support for fundamental research to bolster university research. Funding drives research. Research, in turn, drives innovation, from startups to multinationals.”

Among the listed objectives outlined in the order include enhancing “access to high-quality and fully traceable Federal data, models, and computing resources”. Brookings Institution observed that “having better access to government data would strengthen the training of AI algorithms”. An example of a company that would benefit from this larger and more vetted data pool is Gopher Protocol Inc. (OTCQB:GOPH), whose Avant! AI platform’s Knowledge Retrieval Algorithm (KRA) utilizes robust semantic analysis for large text collections and multimedia objects. Company CTO, Dr. Danny Rittman explained:

"Our KRA system analyzes documents, identifies and indexes text and then assigns different technique to 'understand' its meaning and make a decision if it is viable or non-relevant.”

One thing Trump’s plan omits however, is any specific information on commitments to federal funding. This is starkly different from China’s AI policy, which aims to establish a $150 billion USD industry by 2030, according to an article from Fortune. And while American businesses like Google, Amazon and IBM currently lead the world in AI spending, a ZDNet piece indicates that Chinese companies are expected to spend a staggering $256.61 billion USD on tech purchases this year, with much of that going to AI.

Baidu, Inc. (NasdaqGS:BIDU), for instance, boasts over 2,000 employees working on AI, including former top Google engineer Andrew Ng, whom they lured away in 2014. In mid- January, Xilinx announced that the newly unveiled EdgeBoard, Baidu's edge acceleration computing solution is enabled by Xilinx. The EdgeBoard is a turn-key solution which is available, fully configured, directly from Baidu. It can also be configured and customized as part of the Baidu Brain AI Hardware Platform initiative, developed to deliver proven market-specific technologies to the industry so that companies can quickly adopt and deploy them for edge-specific applications.

Back in the US, NVIDIA’s (NasdaqGS:NVDA) DRIVE autopilot, the world's first commercially available Level 2+ automated driving system, debuted at the CES 2019 conference last month. DRIVE utilizes multiple AI technologies, including AI copilot capabilities and advanced in-cabin visualization of the vehicle's computer vision system. But this is rivaled by one of Baidu’s principle AI projects, the Apollo driverless car program. And with the Chinese autonomous car market projected to hit $500 billion USD by 2030, it may not be surprising for them to eclipse their American counterparts.

Tencent Holdings Limited (OTC:TCEHY), is a fellow Chinese tech giant that is comparable to Google in its scope of services. One project that distinguishes it from many other big tech companies however, is its Tencent Miying Engine, which helps healthcare institutions with diagnoses. According to Nasdaq, “With more than 38,000 medical institutes, especially in China, using [Tencent platform] WeChat, Tencent is using data to transform and uplift the medical industry in the country.”

Though many US companies applauded Trump’s AI initiative, others were critical that it wasn’t as much of a commitment as that seen from the communist Chinese state. Historically, centralized states like that of China have failed to out-compete freer markets like the United States, but it is hard to ignore the dedication and consequent momentum seen from the People’s Republic.

So it’s a tale of cats and dogs; Baidu just announced the creation of a cat shelter using artificial intelligence and in the US, Gopher Protocol Inc. used its AI tech in its pet tracking technology. Let the race continue.

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