53 pages 1 hour read

Kai-Fu Lee

AI Superpowers

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2018

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Entrepreneurship as a Driving Force for Progress

The majority of AI Superpowers is concerned with mapping global economic contests and identifying the qualities of successful business ventures. Kai-Fu Lee’s argument is predicated on the notion that the international AI explosion will result in economic “winners” and “losers.” Winning the global AI race is an unquestioned good in AI Superpowers, despite the resultant jobs crisis, which Lee sees as an inevitable consequence of AI’s development.

Lee predicts in AI Superpowers that the Chinese tech industry will overtake Silicon Valley’s present-day lead. Although Lee acknowledges that this is due in part to “dirty tactics,” he congratulates the Chinese tech ecosystem for its pragmatic and competitive spirit and praises its “gladiatorial” businesspeople:

The messy markets and dirty tricks of China’s ‘copycat’ era produced some questionable companies, but they also incubated a generation of the world’s most nimble, savvy, and nose-to-the-grindstone entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs will be the secret sauce that helps China become the first country to cash in on AI’s age of implementation (24).

Lee is usually agnostic toward the ethical dimensions of China’s rise to success. While he acknowledges the potential ethical pitfalls of gladiatorial business operations and the Chinese government’s social “controls” on scientific research, he implicitly regards them as a worthwhile means to an end.