In an review entitled, “The 4 Waves of AI: Who Will Own the Future of Technology?” on The Singularity Hub, Peter Diamandis provides a succinct review of Kai-Fu Lee’s AI Superpowers.
Diamandis’s review focuses on Lee’s analysis of the completion between the United States and China and it’s a sobering analysis for those who aspire to at least maintain the balance of power between the countries.
It also clearly shows how the general non-interest in learning how AI and the other emerging technologies is putting the US in a very bad competitive position. It seems Americans are generally uninterested in the technologies that will soon be entwined in our lives – except for their entertainment value. It’s imperative that we come to an understanding of what makes these technologies tick, what benefits they bring and what threats they will enable.
Lee discusses 4 Waves of AI and share’s his analysis of the competitive balance between the US and China today and 5-10 years in the future.
AI Market Today
- US has clear lead today
- particularly in 2nd and 4th waves
1st Wave – Internet AI
Recommendation engines are the big piece of this wave. Think Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify. The Chinese have Alibaba and Baidu as heavyweights in this category. But Lee points to Tautiao as the example of where this wave is headed. Tautiao provides hyper personalization of the news to millions of subscribers – even rewriting headlines to fit individual profiles.
Lee calls the current 1st Wave market a dead heat between the two countries, but sees China surging a bit ahead within 5 years.
2nd Wave – Business AI
Business AI leverages historical data to identify previously unseen patterns and correlations. While Lee places the US far ahead in this Wave (90-10), he points to a few factors that may tip this Wave dramatically toward China.
Because it is a fair newer economy, China has fewer legacy issues regarding its data – particularly the credit market basis of US business. In addition, China’s economy is primarily dependent upon mobile payments rather than credit cards. Rather than crunching numbers to determine a customer’s likelihood to repay a loan, China’s lenders are looking at customers’ behaviors. Smart Finance takes into consideration over 1200 data points – some seemingly unrelated to finance like typing speed and battery percentage data from your phone – to help determine your credit worthiness. Sound crazy? Smart Finance has an astounding repayment rate.
‘We don’t need human beings to tell us who’s a good customer and who’s bad. Technology is our risk control.’ —Yongqianbao founder and CEO Jiao KeWant a Loan in China? Keep Your Phone Charged, http://www.smartfinancegroup.com
3rd Wave – Perception AI
In this Wave, Diamandis writes “AI gets an upgrade with eyes, ears, and myriad other senses, merging the digital world with our physical environments.” Sensors are going to be everywhere able to watch us, follow us, and guide us. The beginning of this Wave is your Alexa home system and your Nest thermostat.
With the added fuel of Chinese government support and a relaxed Chinese attitude toward data privacy, China’s lead may even reach 80-20 in the next five years.
Lee has this Wave as somewhat close today with China leading 60-40. But with infrastructure already in place and a manufacturing advantage for creating smart devices, he sees China dominating this Wave 80-20 in the next 5 years.
AI Market in 5 years
- China will be clear leader
- significant advantages in 2nd and 3rd waves
4th Wave – Autonomous AI
This Wave is where all predictions become wilder and more encompassing. Right now autonomous vehicles and Boston Dynamic’s Atlas humanoid and other robots are leading examples. In the 4th Wave all of the characteristics of the previous three Waves are joined together to give AI the ability to sense and react to its environment.
While 4th Wave technologies can very quickly begin to sound like things only found in science fiction, Boston Dynamic’s Spot dog robot and cars that park themselves and can take actions based on their environment are on the market or soon will be.
Lee puts the US far ahead (90-10) of China today in this Wave. But with government investment ramping up, he estimates that this Wave will be a dead heat in 5 years.
Where Does This Lead Us
As learning professionals in the workplace, we have a responsibility to understand the changes the organizations we work for will need to undertake to compete in a very fast changing world. We need to understand the skills employees will need to have in 5 years and develop strategies to help them make the necessary transition. This requires that we come to an understanding of what these technologies are and the impact they are going to have on our employees, our organizations, and our communities.
Here are the questions I’m asking myself:
- Am I learning how these emerging technologies work?
- Do I understand the gains that the organization will achieve with their implementation?
- Does my management team have a clear understanding of the changes that will be required?
- What skills will be needed to enable my organization to transition and the operate at a high level in this future state?
PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN COMMENTS BELOW
How are you preparing yourself for the future? Do you believe your organization is preparing for the challenges ahead? What will be the impact if Lee is correct and the balance of AI power shifts from the US to China? Please add a comment below.
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