I recently published a blog post where I tried to assess China's importance as a global actor on the path transformative AI. This was a relatively shallow dive, but I hope it will still be able to spark an interesting conversation on this topic, and/or inspire others to research this topic further.
The post is quite long (0ver 6,000 words), so I'll copy and paste my bottom line takes, and (roughly) how confident I am in them after brief reflection:
- China is, as of early 2023, overhyped as an AI superpower - 60%.
- That being said, the reasons that they might emerge closer to the frontier, and the overall importance of positively shaping the development of AI, are enough to warrant a watchful eye on Chinese AI progress - 90%.
- China’s recent AI research output, as it pertains to transformative AI, is not quite as impressive as headlines might otherwise suggest - 75%.
- I suspect hardware difficulties, and structural factors that push top-tier researchers towards other countries, are two of China’s biggest hurdles in the short-to-medium term, and neither seem easily solvable - 60%.
- It seems likely to me that the US is currently much more likely to create transformative AI before China, especially under short(ish) timelines (next 5-15 years) - 70%.
- A second or third place China that lags the US and allies could still be important. Since AI progress has recently moved at a break-neck pace, being second place might only mean being a year or two behind — though I suspect this gap will increase as the technology matures - 65%.
- I might be missing some important factors, and I’m not very certain about which are the most important when thinking about this question - 95%.