schmidt3_GREG BAKERAFP via Getty Images_chinacoronavirusappphone Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Is China Winning the AI Race?

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the capabilities of the United States and China to deploy artificial intelligence in solving real-world problems. While America's performance hasn't exactly inspired confidence, it maintains some important competitive advantages.

CAMBRIDGE – COVID-19 has become a severe stress test for countries around the world. From supply-chain management and health-care capacity to regulatory reform and economic stimulus, the pandemic has mercilessly punished governments that did not – or could not – adapt quickly.

The virus has also pulled back the curtain on one of this century’s most important contests: the rivalry between the United States and China for supremacy in artificial intelligence (AI). The scene that has been revealed should alarm Americans. China is not just on a trajectory to overtake the US; it is already surpassing US capabilities where it matters most.

Most Americans assume that their country’s lead in advanced technologies is unassailable. And many in the US national-security community insist that China can never be more than a “near-peer competitor” in AI. In fact, China is already a full-spectrum peer competitor in terms of both commercial and national-security AI applications. China is not just trying to master AI; it is mastering AI.

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