What China can teach the US about artificial intelligence

Visionary research no longer the most important element of progress

Every technology goes through an age of discovery and an age of implementation. During the age of discovery, the critical work takes place in research laboratories, where scientists make the breakthroughs that move the field forward. During the age of implementation, the technology reaches a point of practical utility and begins spilling out of the lab and into the world.

Over the past decade, I've watched first-hand as the field of artificial intelligence has transitioned from one phase to the other. The 1980s and 1990s were a period of discovery in AI, one that I participated in through my research on speech recognition at Carnegie Mellon University and Apple. More recently, I participated in the implementation phase through my work as the head of Google China and as an early investor in the Chinese mobile Internet.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2018, with the headline 'What China can teach the US about artificial intelligence'. Print Edition | Subscribe