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Ranking the Global AI Arms Race – US and China Leading the Way

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

The space race, the nuclear arms race, and now it appears the latest is the AI arms race. The Global AI Index by Tortoise Intelligence has ranked 54 countries based on their AI capabilities, measuring performance across 150 indicators including research, coding platforms, investment and government spending. This index discloses the huge acceleration of AI across the globe as the technology becomes rightly or wrongly, a new battleground for power and competitiveness. Composed of three data clusters – innovation, implementation and investment, there are seven key categories: research, development, talent, operating environment, infrastructure, commercial ventures and government strategy.

The top 10 countries were led by the US and China. It was noted that the US led the pack by a significant margin, scoring almost twice as highly as China in second place. The US remains significantly superior in terms of talent, infrastructure research and commercial. However, China is expected to overtake the US in 5 to 10 years, given its current pace of growth and investments being made. It is interesting to note China scoring highly in terms of government strategy, as they push for AI supremacy.

Having said that, the MIT Technology Review has highlighted new research from the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) showing that China is likely spending far less on AI than previously estimated. CSET also believes that Chinese AI money appears to be going to non-military-related research, such as fundamental algorithm development, robotics research, and smart-infrastructure development. The US’s planned spending for fiscal year 2020 allocates the majority of its AI budget to defence, which means it could possibly outspend China in that category.

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