AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee

In his non-fiction book, prominent venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee discusses artificial intelligence, the two biggest players in the AI world, and the importance of human emotion, touch, and connection as our society becomes more technologically integrated.

Due to China’s extensive level of integration and ability to collect massive amounts of data, they will bypass the U.S. in many sectors. Initially, China was perceived as a copycat culture in terms of technology creation, data collection, and software development. Although this tactic was looked down upon by the West, it has proven to cultivate a culture of continual learning for engineers and entrepreneurs. For example, people in the west would often describe Chinese tech companies as ‘the Facebook of China’ or the ‘Amazon of China.’

The reason China is bypassing western technology companies is because of the way The Chinese government heavily subsidizes entrepreneurship endeavors. Although this is an expensive strategy initially, it has proven to be the right decision for China in the long run. In one example given, the Chinese government subsidized and pushed the use payment apps for taxi drivers. Although it was extremely expensive, consumers and taxi drivers benefited. Payment apps have little to no credit fees or minimum payments for purchases. This card-less, cashless system has transcended into other areas because it allows people to easily pay for products and services quickly which makes people buy more thus, creating a positive feedback loop for consumers.

Using payment apps for everyday activities allows for a thick net of data to be collected, rendering it ready to be analyzed. Although the U.S. is integrated somewhat in terms of payment apps, it’s not on the level that China is. This is incredibly important in AI development because large amounts of data are needed to predict user behavior, and to tailor products and services to users. According to Kai-Fu what’s more important right now is the quantity of data rather than the quantity of data. Due to this high quantity of data, China does not evangelize ‘genius’ engineers, rather, companies want engineers who have sufficient skill, not those who are necessarily the cream of the crop.

This book was incredibly interesting because not only did it discuss the different areas of artificial intelligence and the current and future trends in technology, but the author discussed his own personal life, and his fight against cancer. Before becoming ill, Kai-fu was so entrenched in becoming the best in his field. He prided himself on responding to email immediately, no matter the hour of the day, he would even try to optimize his personal life and his family just like a computer algorithm. When he became ill he was forced to slow down, and through self reflection and spending time with the people that were most important to him, he realized that life isn’t just about fame or money or trying to optimize every moment – life isn’t an algorithm, as he so eloquently put it.

With AI on track to reduce the number of jobs in the world, Kai-fu discussed what types of jobs will be in high demand as we become more automated. Kai-fu believes that one of these jobs will be caregiving for those with healthcare issues and the elderly and I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment.

I was drawn to this book because I’m really fascinated with technology, and the more entrenched I became in this arena, the more I started to wonder what the future would like for registered nurses as we obtain more data – health and other data.

What will healthcare look like in the future? What role will a registered nurse play and what will the nursing profession look like in 5 years?

What about 10 years? Or even 25? And lastly, how will the nursing schools and our communities adapt to these inevitable changes?

Incredibly fascinating indeed.

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