In March 2016, a Google DeepMind AI designed for playing the board game Go (AlphaGo) defeated Lee Sedol, a South Korean professional Go player. At the time, Sedol had the second-highest number of Go international championship victories, yet lost against AlphaGo by four games to one (Boroweic, 2016). While the match received some coverage in the West, it was a major event in China, where over 280 million people watched it live. Two government insiders described this match as a ‘Sputnik moment’ for the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within China (Lee, 2018, p. 3). Although there had been AI policy initiatives in the country previously, the victory for AlphaGo contributed to an increase in focus, advanced by the 2017 ‘New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan’ (AIDP). The AIDP set out strategic aims and delineated the overarching goal of making China the world leader in AI by 2030.
This is from the introduction of this wonderful paper on China’s AI policy. It’s quite the read.