US and China Battle for AI Supremacy

Tech billionaires are not the only ones vying for control of AI; the US and China are also engaged in fierce competition. Both superpowers compete for intellectual know-how, designing AI hardware and software, and accessing the raw materials that power AI systems. The US currently holds a significant lead in developing generative AI systems, such as large language models (LLMs). Export restrictions on high-performance semiconductors, like those designed by Nvidia, keep the most sophisticated LLMs out of China’s reach.

China is countering with strategic moves, such as restricting the export of chipmaking metals and amassing a $27 billion chip fund to support its major projects. The competition extends to talent acquisition, with recent charges against a Chinese national and former Google AI software developer for stealing confidential code.

While the US and China currently lead in global AI rankings, the long-term impact on economic and societal advantages remains uncertain. However, there is hope on the horizon. Geopolitical “swing states” like the UK, UAE, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, and South Korea might play crucial roles in forming AI alliances, potentially shifting the balance of power. Other Asian countries, including Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, already have advantages in semiconductor manufacturing and design, further adding to the potential for change.


The fight for global AI supremacy was discussed at the Web Summit in Doha, Qatar, where AI leaders acknowledged the current dominance of the US and China. However, which countries will leverage AI to the greatest advantage over time is unclear. Singapore has rapidly climbed the ranks and is now the third-ranked AI power. Goldman Sachs suggests that geopolitical “swing states” may be well-positioned to tap into AI technology and form alliances.

Significant investments and advancements in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the UAE, and Israel highlight the shift in global power towards countries producing AI technology rather than merely consuming it. According to experts, a cooperative approach involving the private sector, public sector, and civil society is not just important; it’s crucial to establishing the right frameworks for AI development. This urgency for collaboration should resonate with the audience, emphasising the need for collective action.

The competition intensifies as countries adopt national AI development strategies and regulations. The EU is expected to adopt new legal restraints around AI in March, while the US and the UK are still considering federal laws specific to AI. The digital divide is closing, and nations that prepare their workforces for AI development and implementation will gain a considerable edge.


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