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China’s government AI research has risen 400% since 2007

In this Oct. 21, 2016, file photo, Chinese students work on the Ares, a humanoid bipedal robot designed by them with fundings from a Shanghai investment company, displayed during the World Robot Conference in Beijing. China's government announced Thursday, July 21, 2017, a goal of transforming the country into a global leader in artificial intelligence in just over a decade, putting additional political support behind growing investment by Chinese companies in developing self-driving cars and other advances. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
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  • Dave Gershgorn
By Dave Gershgorn

Artificial intelligence reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

More than 87% of the world’s AI research comes from academia, according to new data released by the AI Index today (Dec. 12).

While that’s been a trend for the last 20 years, new initiatives in China have dramatically increased the amount of research directly affiliated with the Chinese government. The number of government-affiliated papers has grown more than 400% from 188 papers in 2007 to 957 papers in 2017.

Over the same time period, the US government has seen a 90% increase, from 351 papers to 670, while Europe has seen a 55% increase from 953 to 1481 papers. That means while China has been investing in artificial intelligence research over the last ten years, it still hasn’t reached the level of government-backed output of Europe, according to the AI Index. But if China’s growth in the field continues, Europe’s government research will soon be eclipsed by China.

The Chinese government also has the advantage of a uniquely close collaboration with tech companies like Tencent and Alibaba, meaning technology companies can take advantage of funding and data the government has to offer, while the government can rely on tech company’s ability to quickly turn data into AI products.

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