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AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  7,617 ratings  ·  973 reviews
Dr. Kai-Fu Lee—one of the world’s most respected experts on AI and China—reveals that China has suddenly caught up to the US at an astonishingly rapid and unexpected pace.

In AI Superpowers, Kai-fu Lee argues powerfully that because of these unprecedented developments in AI, dramatic changes will be happening much sooner than many of us expected. Indeed, as the US-Sino AI
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Jeremy Kai-Fu Lee is Taiwanese. If you know anything about Taiwanese people, they really distinguish themselves from the mainland Chinese, separating themsel…moreKai-Fu Lee is Taiwanese. If you know anything about Taiwanese people, they really distinguish themselves from the mainland Chinese, separating themselves as different people. He might be a little biased, but he makes a lot of good points that people outside of the China, Taiwan, Hong Kong realm might not catch. (less)
Tobias Boyd There's a Kindle edition now, if that works for you:
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Mario the lone bookwolf
The distillation and preparation of the data for feeding the omniscient cyber oracle.

The culturally influenced, very different approach to research and integration of AI in society is interesting. So the methods to compensate for the loss of jobs and changes in society will be different and it will be interesting to see which strategies will be successful. And whether even more beneficial mixed forms from the best Asian and Western approaches will be mixed together.

Politics, especially democra
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
This book is an eye opener for those of us unfamiliar with the wide ranging capabilities and imminent impact of AI. Lee tells us about the development, design and future of AI and associated web and mobile technology. He contrasts Chinese work in AI with that in the US. While Chinese AI is based on technologies developed in the US, Chinese companies are now taking their own direction. Lee makes a strong case that AI will have profound consequences for society and determine the relative power of ...more
Dee Arr
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
{Words on Words 60-Second Spotlight Review: }

Early on, it is noticeable that Mr. Lee’s comments all favor his original premise, that China will eclipse the United States as a global superpower in the realm of international commerce. While I believe this is a possibility, the author’s view initially appeared tainted due to his relative closeness to the subject matter (viewing China as his homeland). Of course, the same could be said of me (living in the US), so I advise rea
100th book for 2018.

The book offers a fascinating look at the rise of the Chinese tech environment, why it's radically different from Silicon Valley, and why it may well ended up dominating the latter over the next couple of decades.

Lee, went from Taiwan to the US to study at 11 years old, and has worked in senior positions in both Google and Apple; founding Google China before leaving in 2009 to start up his on Chinese venture capital firm, can take both an insider and outsider perspective on
This is a great book. It not only provides a history of AI both in the USA and China. Kai-Fu Lee also provides a history of AI’s both in the USA and China, and also incudes an in-depth analysis between China and the US’s approach to AI’s. He also discusses pros and cons of their abilities, engineering and politics.

The author explains technical methods so that a lay person can understand it. He also explains algorithms and data in an easy to understand manner. The author shows how AI’s effect our
Laura Noggle
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
“A clear-eyed look at the technology’s long-term impact has revealed a sobering truth: in the coming decades, AI’s greatest potential to disrupt and destroy lies not in international military contests but in what it will do to our labor markets and social systems. Appreciating the momentous social and economic turbulence that is on our horizon should humble us. It should also turn our competitive instincts into a search for cooperative solutions to the common challenges that we all face as human ...more
Huyen Chip
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book I've read on what's happening in the realm of AI.
Woman Reading
3.5 ☆

Films, especially the "Terminator" series, had introduced me to a limited view of artificial intelligence (AI). AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee provided me with a broader big- picture introduction to AI in terms of what it is, identifying the major players, and making some predictions about the future. Lee also includes many examples of companies' current innovations - from AI that can handily trounce world champion Go players to the ubiquitous digital wallet in China created by WeChat.

My u
Don't you just love it when two worlds of your interests collide? Having read many science fiction works (and movies) featuring AI, I truly enjoyed the reading experience from this book. Funnily enough, he did made a reference to Hao Jingfang's story, Folding Beijing, when he talked about AGI, aka the Singularity.

As I said before in my placeholder review, it is highly informative. I learned about deep learning and its relation with data, what it takes for successful AI algorithms to take off. I
Patrick Hackett
May 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping for an insightful read about the balance between the US and China and the current global state of AI, but instead the book basically evolved from cover letter to personal memoir, with a clear bias towards China throughout. Maybe I would have liked this more if I was previously familiar with Kai-Fu Lee, but I found "AI Superpowers" too heavy on the author bragging and not heavy enough on actual substance.
Roy Wang
This is one of the most useful books to read if you want to understand China's rising dominance in the applications of A.I. technologies, written by none other than the highly respected expert of China's startup scene, Dr. Kai-Fu Lee. While many Westerners might still associate China's tech companies with copycats or OEM sweatshops, this book makes it crystal clear why China has emerged as the world's model country for developing and integrating A.I. technologies into virtually every corner of i ...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
update on China the US race for AI (remember what Elon Musk called the equivalent of summoning a demon). China had a Sputnik moment when the world Go Champion lost to the Alpha Go system it has since caught up with US companies in the race to AI. I don't think AI overlords is the worry in the near term but shedding whole categories of jobs. The book also has a 2d graph along Asocial-social dimensions and along Optimization-Creativity axis making four quadrants Safe Zone (Social-Creative), Human ...more
Jonathan Lu
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. I learned a lot about what a great man has done, but even more about who he is. His POV about the future of AI is spot on, and made me think about the structural advantage that China has:
- government structure means an ability to rapidly spur public investment in R&D without political backlash (rather embraced support by the lieutenants on the ground), which lends to an even higher appetite for risk than among VCs in Silicon Valley
- Size, with more internet users than US/EU co
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lee Kai-Fu is a venture capitalist and best selling author. He used to head Google China and is a lymphoma survivor. This book has 2 parts:

1. For AI to succeed, it needs persistent entrepreneurs, AI researchers, capital and lots of data. Lee posited that China’s apps involved the whole service chain, from the mobile phone, to the main goods/service provider to the delivery person. Silicon Valley prefers to code the clean part, that is, the app part but leaves other companies to do the ground wor
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A super-important read if you want to get a quick overview into the AI race as it stands. "Eye-opening" is an understatement. In the latter part of the book, the author allows us to get more personal by talking about his battle with late-stage cancer and how it moulded his personal mission to make AI more humane. The only shortcoming I could find in this book was the lack of concrete steps to achieve his mission. Perhaps there are just no concrete steps and humans will just do as humans do. Good ...more
Nari Kannan
Frankly, I could not read beyond the first few chapters of this book. Dr. Kai Fu Lee lost all credibility with me when in the second chapter or so he says "Everything in AI Science that needs to be discovered has been discovered. Now it is up to the entrepreneurs to move it forward". I was so surprised that someone with a PhD in AI from Carnegie-Mellon would say something like this. Funny thing about AI is that you need to implement something hard in it like Natural Language Understanding or Mac ...more
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee is a book about the past, present and future of AI as forecast by the author, a true expert in the field. Unfortunately, AI Superpowers is shallow when it comes to the actual technical content of the book. Lee makes no attempt to provide deep insights into the specific technologies and methods that will unlock the next phase of AI that promises to disrupt major sectors of the world’s economy. Lee instead employs analogi ...more
Rahul  Adusumilli
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rahul by: The Economist
May have already found my book of the year. The title doesn't do justice to the breadth of the book. In addition to contrasting the two innovative centres- yes, China is an innovative centre now-, it also works as a good history and introduction to the field of AI. It takes a radical turn towards spirituality near the end but you even forgive that out-of-the-blue detour for the sweetness of his hopes.

That turn is a lot like the Matrix trilogy's, when everything becomes about love and love becom
Mal Warwick
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Google "books about artificial intelligence," and you'll find a slew of them. Amazon lists 286. Computer scientists, journalists, science fiction authors, and other observers have written on the topic, sometimes insightfully, sometimes not. I've read nearly two dozen of these books. But AI Superpowers, the latest one to land on my Kindle, is by far the best. Author Kai-Fu Lee isn't just one of the most authoritative voices in the field. He's also unusually insightful. And he writes well (althoug ...more
Alexander Rivas
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-books-read
This is the best book on the topic of AI I've read so far. I am kind of freaked out at how serious China is moving along to be the powerhouse of the world regarding AI technology. It was eye-opening to learn about the cultural difference between the entrepreneurial mindsets of Silicon Valley versus China. In my opinion, there are a lot of good arguments on why AI is inevitable and good for the future of humanity, but there are lots of issues that seem that'll affect the outsiders regarding AI te ...more
With AI Superpowers, Lee has written a clear-eyed account of the business of AI that is highly digestible for the general reader. I found that the most valuable part of the book is its first half, which contrasts AI in the U.S. and China, and makes a convincing cultural argument for why Silicon Valley companies can't seem to make it in China. For example, Google wasn't popular as a search engine because it didn't optimize itself for the habits of Chinese users, who preferred to treat the search ...more
Kent Winward
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most balanced books on AI that I have read that takes in a lot of cultural and economic views and combines them with the technology. I'm not a techno-optimist, but I'm also not a techno-pessimist, so this balanced approach played well for me. One thing about new technology is we often forget to look at where it might help. These are new tools and we are still learning how to use them.

Lee's critique of Universal Basic Income was actually quite good. Quite possibly a view that could on
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all Silicon Valley sociopaths and psychopaths
Typical Silicon Valley sociopath's journey from being part of the problem, to discovery that he is actually a human too, and on his path to redemption demonstrates that it is possible to apply ones incredible skills constructively to the problem. This should be required reading for all Silicon Valley sociopaths (otherwise known as oligarchs).

This book contains a great executive summary on the current state of the art of AI in both China and the US, and great for someone totally new. It might fil
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gives a great introduction to China's startups/technology ecosystem and development. The author also dissects broad types of AI companies and explains the environments in which each type would flourish really well. Finally, it is insightful to learn Kai-Fu Lee's take on life as he spent decades as an insider in the field - in research and business, in China and the U.S.
Teo 2050


Lee KF (2018) (09:28) AI Superpowers - China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order



1. China’s Sputnik Moment
• The View from Beijing
• A Game and a Game Changer
• The Ghost in the Go Machine
• A Brief History of Deep Learning
• Pulling Back the Curtain on Deep Learning
• AI and International Research
• The Age of Implementation
• The Age of Data
• Advantage China
• The Hand on the Scales
• The Real Crises
• The AI World Order

2. Copycats in the Coliseum
• C
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
Ehh, don't be deterred by my 2 star rating. This book is short and may still worth your time.

I will break down the book into roughly 4 sections: 1) AI & its beauty, 2) its ugliness 3) the author 4) the author's proposed solution.

For people unfamiliar with China, especially the modern China since 2010s, the first section is particularly valuable. I've been fascinated by the country for quite a few years already and have learned the majority of examples that Lee covers through my friends and throu
Dec 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful piece of propaganda straight out of a totalitarian, central, government.

The book starts with a comparison between USSR and USA with the space race with the USA and China in AI, presenting it as a vaguely competitive thing. He doesn't mention the competition was the Cold War and the direct comparison is that China is waging war against the USA.

He continues by talking about China "cloning" and borrowing US applications almost whole cloth, without ever mentioning that most nations have
Bartosz Majewski
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Amazing Book. It reminds me of the excitement I've felt when I was reading the startup nation about the Israeli startup ecosystem around 2015. Even if you need to account for that the author has the motive to exaggerate a little and selectively select some facts to, and so jaw drops when some facts are quoted.

280 million people in China watched the GO game in which alpha go won. The value of mobile payments in China is greater than GDP, e-commerce sales up to 2x that in the US, in the peak of co
Haw Kuang Oh
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read of the rise of China in technology revolutions, especially in AI. My bet is on China to lead in AI in the next decade. One example cited in the book reflected how the race will be tilted in China's favor:

"In the United States, in contrast, we build self-driving cars to adapt to our existing roads because we assume the roads can’t change. In China, there’s a sense that everything can change—including current roads. Indeed, local officials are already modifying existing highways,
Akshith Rao
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gives a good foundation on what is AI, its various stages, the ongoing war between China and USA and finally its implications on human beings with a slight drawback of sometimes being repetitive and sometimes loosing direction

I liked Kai's AI evolution model and his reasoning on how we need to think beyond just plain universal basic income schemes to solve the impending job loses due to AI. His views on how AI will effect the social inequality system is also interesting.

I did not like
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