Jeff Ding, a researcher at the University of Oxford who studies China’s AI development, shared some recent reflections on the most important things he’s learned in the past year.
#1. The Chinese- and English-speaking AI communities have an asymmetrical understanding of each other. Most Chinese researchers can read English, and nearly all major research developments in the Western world are immediately translated into Chinese, but the reverse is not true. Therefore, the Chinese research community has a much deeper understanding than the English-speaking one of what’s happening on both sides of the aisle. As China’s AI industry continues to grow, this could prove a major disadvantage for people in the West.
#2. Westerners have a hyped-up view of China’s AI capabilities. The exaggeration is fanned partly by the media and partly by Western actors deliberately using an “AI arms race” narrative to spur forward their agendas. But Westerners also lack a genuine understanding of the technical skills and capacity of Chinese companies. A few deep dives from Chinese writers have reported that most of China’s AI giants are much less impressive than they seem, with less-sophisticated algorithms and smaller research teams than commonly believed.
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