The two largest economies in the world are dominating global research and development in the artificial intelligence field, but China is likely to emerge the winner, according to Credit Suisse.
That prediction was based largely on one reason: China lacks “serious law” about data protection, which gives companies pretty much free rein to develop their technology, said Dong Tao, vice chairman for Greater China at Credit Suisse Private Banking Asia Pacific.
At present, China lags U.S. in every area of AI development — hardware, research and algorithm, and industry commercialization — except big data, according to a recent Oxford University report.
“I’m not saying Chinese companies are better than American companies, I’m not saying Chinese engineers are better than American engineers. What will make China be big in AI and big data is: China has no serious law protecting data privacy,” Tao told reporters Thursday at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong while explaining his call for the East Asian giant to become the top player in AI.
“WeChat is processing 7 billion photos a day — that’s a massive, massive data resource. They will have an edge in image recognition,” he added.
The comments by Tao, a well-known China expert, came in the wake of increasing legal backlash over data and privacy issues in some countries. Facebook, for example, has come under regulatory scrutiny for the way it handles user data.
Chinese technology companies won’t be spared either, Tao said, explaining that tighter data privacy laws would be introduced at some point. And it would be a challenge for authorities to balance protecting the privacy of tech users and not hurting the sector’s growth, he added.