Gartner Blog Network

Book Review: AI Super-Powers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order

by Andrew White  |  June 28, 2019  |  Comments Off on Book Review: AI Super-Powers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order

Book Review: AI Super-Powers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, by Kai-Fu Lee, 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Mr. Lee is the ex-President of Google China and now chairmen and CEO of a tech-focused investment firm focusing on China. He clearly has spent a lot of time looking for disruptive technologies and also AI and how AI can impact our lives. This book compares how the markets, led by the US and China, are evolving differently due to the different climate and environment in those two countries.

This book is a must read. It is mostly jargon free and does not focus on technology in great detail; the author explains more how we work and play, spanning different industries and how smarter decision making capacities, automation, speed and accuracy might change things. What is startling, and why you should read the book, is the impact of China’s political, social and economic climate will or is having on R&D and commercialization of AI-driven technologies, and use in general, of AI.

China is certainly regulated quite differently to the US; there are very different federal government investment strategies. The economy itself is different in that beyond the lack privacy, the overt monitoring of every day life and the sheer volume of such data leads to different kinds and uses of AI solution. Even what is acceptable socially has an impact; how our children grow up differs hugely as a result. His conclusions are that the two countries have different weaknesses (as it were) and strengths, and that overall the differences will in many areas wash away.

I found the last third of the book less interesting. The short term vision is certainly fascinating and alarming at the same time. There seems ample opportunity for innovation to differ in both regions and different solutions will (and are) emerging. Firms that seek to operate in both countries will have major headaches trying to cope and reconciling the two approaches.

But in some ways Mr Lee suggests a gradual convergence between China and US when it comes to the underplaying technology; but his longer term vision seemed rather vague. It’s as if he did a scenario plan to compare possible futures and decided to explain a fuzzy average, rather than explore the edges of our collective future that might be rather sharp and painful for some.

Nonetheless, a must read! 9 out of 10

Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: aiml  artificial-intelligence  book-review  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio

Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.