by Mariana Bozesan

The main focus of this blog post is my old love for Artificial Intelligence. Our future is so deeply intertwined with AI applications that AI expert and venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee puts AI at the center of the political fight for the new world order. In his book AI Superpowers, Lee estimates that by 2023, the AI battle between the United States and China will most likely be won by China, which “seems poised to seize global leadership” in most of the following four AI waves (you can find more details in chapter 1 of my book “Integral Investing: From Profit to Prosperity”):

China seems poised to seize global leadership

Kai-Fu Lee, founder of Alibaba

Internet AI

Internet AI is ubiquitous in and controls people’s lives through applications such as Netflix, YouTube videos, and platforms such as Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, Baidu, and Google that already seem to “know” our preferences, interests, and shopping patterns. Those applications use algorithms to learn more about, label, optimize, and manipulate people. The significance of Internet AI applications became obvious when Cambridge Analytica purchased and used Facebook data to understand, target, and manipulate American voters during the 2016 presidential election. Lee sees China at a 60-40 advantage over the rest of the world.

Business AI

Business AI is the second wave that uses AI technology to take advantage of and mine massive amounts of well-structured corporate databases and conventional enterprise software (legacy systems). These are available in more traditional companies such as insurance companies, banks, law offices, and hospitals, which have used human experts to categorize, search, and label their data for many decades. AI can now help humans make better sense of data and so make better decisions. One of the more promising applications of business AI seems to lie in the healthcare field, particularly in terms of predictive medicine and diagnosis, but also for knowledge dissemination. Lee considers that the United States is currently leading (US 90-China 10) in business AI simply because of the historical development of legacy systems. He considers that China is likely to take the lead in public services in the future.

Perception AI

Perception AI is the third wave. It takes advantage of audio, visual, and other sensory intelligence to feed and run AI algorithms. For example, Amazon Echo and Alexa devices are digitizing the audio environment through voice recognition and natural language processing, Alibaba’s City Brain parses information from cameras in order to digitize traffic flows, and Apple’s iPhone X uses computer vision and object recognition to safeguard mobile devices. Lee calls this merging of the online and offline worlds that perception AI facilitates OMO (online-merge-offline). This integrated environment driven and controlled by perception AI will, according to Lee, make, for example, pay-with-your-face, robot-assisted shopping, and individually tailored education, possible and accessible to users. Lee asserts that the Chinese are more willing to trade their privacy for convenience than the Americans and Europeans, who are accustomed to and value democracy, privacy, and freedom. Lee gives China the clear advantage over the US on perception AI simply because of its headstart on privacy elimination and the massive amount of data available from the country’s large network of cameras and sensors in public areas. The crucial battle for privacy protection as a basic human right has just begun.

Autonomous AI

Autonomous AI “represents the integration and culmination of the three preceding waves,” states Lee. He believes that “combining these superhuman powers yields machines that don’t just understand the world around them—they shape it.” The premise for autonomous AI is the ability of machines to see, hear, sense, and optimize the massive amounts of data they collect and that will eventually render them autonomous. Lee considers the US to currently be in the “commanding lead (90-10),” but “in five years’ time [he gives] the United States and China even odds of leading the world in self-driving cars, with China having the edge in hardware-intensive applications such as autonomous drones.” 

Only the future will tell who leads the world in AI technologies. What we know for now is that China has understood the importance of AI development for its future position in the world and has “spurred myriad policies and billions of dollars of investment in research and development from ministries, provincial governments and private companies.” China is leading the world in solutions for natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics, and the average citations for AI papers authored by Chinese researchers are above the world average, albeit still lower than those of their US counterparts, who currently represent the largest AI talent pool.

This is why, in this episode of my videocast and podcast, I have interviewed serial entrepreneur, AI expert, technology thought-leader and tech advisor to the German Chancellor, Chris Boos. His mission is totally aligned with ours which is to unleash human potential and address grand global challenges through the safe application of artificial intelligence (AI) and technology in general. In this interview, Chris is challenging current understanding of economics, finance, public discourse, and their role in addressing issues of global importance including the man-machine-relationship. We discuss how societies must change post Covid-19 to ensure social cohesion, address disinformation bias and how to structure sustainable finance and economics to secure the future of labor through sustainable business models in the digital age.