A version of this article by Jeffery Ding originally appeared in the ChinAI newsletter, which publishes translations of writings on AI policy and strategy from Chinese thinkers.
There is a language asymmetry in the Chinese-speaking community’s understanding of the global AI landscape and that of the English-speaking community.
Many of my translations this year drew from outlets such as xinzhiyuan, Leiphone and jiqizhixin, many of which are outpacing their Western outlets in content and scale.
While some of this exaggeration is a product of media sensationalism or deliberate overestimation on the part of interest groups, another significant factor behind the overinflation is a misunderstanding of what is happening at the technical level of AI development in Chinese companies.
In a year that featured the rise of the “AI arms race” meme and headlines like “China’s tech giants spending more on AI than Silicon Valley,” few people dug underneath the hood to see what China’s so-called AI giants, such as Tencent, were actually doing regarding AI at the technical level.
One exception was a Chinese-language essay by Li Guofei, a widely respected thinker in China’s investment community, which drew on interviews with Tencent insiders.