Author: Kai-Fu Lee
I read this book mostly on the basis of the authors pedigree. Kai-Fu Lee is a tech rock star. He’s an O.G. of AI research, a tech exec who built Google China, and founder of the VC firm Sinovation Ventures.
What I hoped to learn from this book was not about AI necessarily, but rather about the view on why China would be relevant to the AI economy in the coming years. Lee delivered on the promise by telling a story that tied together China’s strengths and the current state of AI development. Despite China’s shortcomings, the argument that they have what it takes to make meaningful advances with AI technology is a strong one.
The point centers around the fact that we’re not relying on fundamental breakthroughs in AI research for progress. Instead, the breakthroughs already exist and now we’re in the “application” phase where execution is needed. And China has the skills to pay the bills when it comes to applying this tech because of the massive amounts of engineering manpower and a data-rich environment driven by culture and scale. Watch out!
Lee spends a good part of the book painting a picture of what the world might look like after the AI job losses start occurring. His message is that we will be wise to reposition the manpower that’s been replaced by computers to do tasks that are innately human – social work, care giving, etc. I’m not sure I buy into this thinking as much as the message on China, but it’s a conversation that I think will pick up steam over the coming years.
Read this book if you’re curious to learn more about AI and the “race” among countries to implement it. Otherwise, maybe find a summary online.
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The question of how many came up in a conversation, so I looked this up. The article goes on to highlight the mismatch of skills coming out of school with workplace needs, but 7 million is up from about 1 million in 1999 when they changed policies, and way above the 3 million that the U.S. graduates annually. | learn more
China is arguably in the lead here – Alibaba has outfitted about 1 million mom & pop shops with heat sensors, digital payments and inventory tracking. While the US has fallen behind due to cultural privacy concerns, progress persists. | learn more
From the science journal Nature. “Their role in science may have had a significant impact on the world, or their position in the world may have had an important impact on science. In ten short profiles we reveal the human stories behind some of the year’s most important discoveries and events.” | learn more
A presentation from a16z general partner Connie Chan. “Believe it or not, we’re still in the early days of the internet. And even though it originated in the U.S., countries like China – that leapfrogged the infrastructure phase to go mobile-first – show us what’s possible when we go beyond advertising-only based models.” | learn more
“In what is thought to be a world first, the colleges of business and engineering at the university signed a three-year contract with an insurance broker to pay the annual six-figure sum, which provides coverage of up to $60 million.” | learn more
You may have seen some headlines about China managing to slip extra chips onto servers operated by Apple, Amazon and other US tech companies. This is a link to the Bloomberg piece with the original reporting that’s worth a read. It reinforces my view that internet security is a myth. | learn more
This series of 10 tweets (with pics and video clips) by Rishi Taparia showcases a new retail story that puts Amazon Go to shame – seriously. | learn more
MIT Technology Review tackles the fascinating subject of how China governs using data, AI and internet surveillance. | learn more
“It was considered one of the CIA’s worst failures in decades: Over a two-year period starting in late 2010, Chinese authorities systematically dismantled the agency’s network of agents across the country, executing dozens of suspected U.S. spies.” | learn more