China and AI Research: A Global Leader

At the end of each year, China’s president Xi Jinping delivers his New Year’s Eve address, recorded in his office and watched by hundreds of millions of Chinese. The audience not only listens to Xi’s words but also closely scans the president’s bookshelf, searching for hints on China’s future political and economic ambitions. Last year, the shelf held two books on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Since then, China has clearly shown that it wants to take in a major role in AI (link to the article). The country’s highly criticized Social Credit System, e.g., would make extensive use of AI. A new study by the scientific publisher Elsevier now examined global activity in the field of AI research. It confirmed what many suspected: China is the global leader in AI research output.

The country overtook the US as No. 1 already in 2004. In the following years, China benefitted from strong global growth in AI research (12 %, 2013-2017). China’s academia also attracts more AI talent than it loses, whereas Europe has been suffering from the move of AI experts to non-European countries in the last couple of years. Experts agree that if this trend continues, Europe will face a serious shortage in scientific workforce.

We believe that China’s focus on AI is of a strategic nature, as understanding AI is considered a key to keeping pace with future technologies – and dominating the market. This is why IP protection in the field of AI becomes more and more important. In many industries, IP competition will increasingly focus on AI. Global players should therefore accurately monitor IPR applications of their competitors and develop viable IP strategies to maintain their market position.

Picture: Xinhua

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