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This article was published on January 25, 2021


Report: Brexit could help China and the US in the global AI race

China is catching up with the US in the AI race, while the EU is slipping further behind

Report: Brexit could help China and the US in the global AI race
Thomas Macaulay
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Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC. Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC.

The EU is falling further behind the US and China in the AI race, and will lose more ground after Brexit, according to a new report.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation assessed the trio’s AI capabilities by analyzing data across six categories: talent, research, commercial development, hardware, adoption, and data.

The think tank found that while the US still holds a substantial overall lead, China is reducing the gap in several important areas — while the EU’s position is slipping:

Absent significant policy changes in both the EU and United States — particularly the EU changing its regulatory system to be more innovation-friendly, and the United States developing and funding a more proactive national AI strategy — it is likely that the EU will remain behind both the United States and China, and that China will eventually close the gap with the United States.

Of the 100 total available points, the US scooped 44.6, followed by China with 32, and the EU with 23.3.

[Read: How this company leveraged AI to become the Netflix of Finland]

The EU scored impressively on research quality. But it’s dropped further behind the US in number of funding deals, acquisitions of AI companies, and the amount of AI firms that have raised at least $1 million in funding.

The researchers expect the UK’s departure from the EU to further diminish the bloc’s AI capabilities. They note that British AI firms received nearly 40% of the EU’s venture and equity deals in 2019, and that five of the bloc’s 14 firms currently developing AI chips are based in the UK.

The US, meanwhile, performed strongly in areas such as startup funding and research investment. However, China has improved the quality of its own AI research.

The country has also surpassed the EU as the world leader in AI publications, and is now home to nearly twice as many of the world’s top 500 supercomputers as the US.AI

Study author Daniel Castro said the Chinese government is reaping the benefits of its strategic focus on:

The United States and European Union need to pay attention to what China is doing and respond, because nations that lead in the development and use of AI will shape its future and significantly improve their economic competitiveness, while those that fall behind risk losing competitiveness in key industries.

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