Editor’s Note: Regular Diary readers know Jeff Brown as Bill’s go-to technology expert. With over 30 years of experience as a high-tech executive, Jeff has insights that nobody else does… and that few have access to.
And today, he reveals the next big tech trend you won’t hear about from the mainstream media. Two of the world’s great superpowers are in an all-out race for global dominance of one type of technology… one that’s already pervasive in our everyday lives… and one that most investors are overlooking…
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union made history…
It successfully launched Sputnik I into Earth’s orbit, the first-ever artificial satellite to make the trip.
Not only was the Soviet Union first to launch a satellite, it managed to put the first human into space in 1961 with Yuri Gagarin’s historic spaceflight.
Thus, began a race for technological superiority between the United States and the Soviet Union – the “Space Race.”
It was a tremendous time in human history.
The world witnessed things that were long thought to be out of reach. By 1969, the race culminated with the U.S. landing the first humans on the moon with the Apollo 11 mission.
The scale of the U.S. effort was incredible. By the end of the Apollo program, the U.S. had spent the equivalent of $100 billion in today’s dollars.
And the United States reaped the rewards…
Beyond spaceflight, the Space Race brought about a wealth of new technology that we now use every day.
It was the birth of the satellite industry and global communications technologies like GPS – which shows your location anywhere on the planet, accurate up to 4 meters. This technology is used in every smartphone, and every modern car or truck on the planet.
But that was really just the beginning. The advancements in aerospace and semiconductor technology as a result of the Space Race are too long to list.
And even simple things that we use daily – like water purifiers, smoke detectors, modern tires, and cordless devices – all resulted from the investments made during the Space Race.
But since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the world really hasn’t had the kind of “call to arms” that we saw during the Space Race.
The Next “Space Race”
The next “Space Race” won’t be for dominance in aerospace technology. Instead, we’re witnessing the birth of an all-out race between the world’s two great superpowers to be the dominant player in another breakthrough technology: artificial intelligence.
AI may seem far off in the future but make no mistake – it’s already a pervasive aspect of everyday life.
Anyone that’s used a search engine like Google, spoken to an Amazon Echo, called into a call center, or driven in a Tesla has used artificial intelligence and likely not even known it.
AI is being used for self-driving cars, image recognition, speech recognition, facial recognition, high-frequency trading (used by hedge funds), network optimization, cybersecurity, and on and on.
And not long ago, the world witnessed something extraordinary… Something that marked a watershed moment in the development of artificial intelligence (AI).
Google-owned DeepMind received global attention in May 2017, after its AlphaGo AI – designed to play the Chinese board game Go – easily defeated the world champion Ke Jie.
Go had long been a challenge for AI researchers, due to its complexity. There are more possible positions in Go (10100) than the number of atoms in the universe. There simply isn’t enough computing power on the planet to calculate every possible outcome. AlphaGo really had to “think” and recognize winning patterns.
AlphaGo’s win was seen as a turning point in AI technology – an event that, for some, came a decade earlier than expected. Some experts didn’t think it was possible at all.
What’s more, the defeat of one of China’s prized champions struck a deep chord with the country.
So much so that, just two months later, the Chinese government rolled out a national policy for AI development – its “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan.”
The goal of the plan is nothing short of global dominance – to become the global leader in AI by 2030.
And just weeks ago, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that promises to spur U.S. AI development: “The American AI Initiative.”
The president’s executive order included five components:
Redirecting existing funding from federal agencies to prioritize AI funding.
Sharing federal computing power and data with more AI researchers.
Retraining workers to prioritize AI.
Creating new standards.
Emphasizing international collaboration in artificial intelligence.
Events like AlphaGo’s victory are significant. They may be easy to dismiss or overlook, but they represent key inflection points in technological development.
But what isn’t easy to dismiss, or overlook, is the world’s two biggest superpowers waging a policy war for the future of AI.
But some of us may be wondering, why is being the leader in AI so important?
The New Industrial Revolution
In short, because artificial intelligence is the most disruptive technology of our age… by far. It will remake our society in ways we can’t yet predict.
During the Industrial Revolution, steam power and mechanization automated many of our repetitive, physical tasks.
That led to a dramatic shift in the workplace. Machines took over many of the grueling jobs humans weren’t well-suited for.
But rather than the doom and gloom of mass unemployment that many expected, the opposite happened. There was an explosion of productivity and economic growth that ultimately created far more jobs and opportunities than were lost.
Just as innovations during the Industrial Revolution automated menial physical tasks, AI will automate many of our simple mental tasks.
This will cause another big shift in the workplace. It will lead to another leap in productivity, an improved quality of life, and create entirely new jobs that don’t exist today.
That’s how powerful AI is. And it’s precisely why countries like the United States and China are determined to be the leader in this revolutionary technology.
Editor, The Near Future Report
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