China’s AI Awakening
© LINTAO ZHANG/GETTY
The West shouldn’t fear China’s artificial-intelligence revolution. It should copy it.
On a tropical island that marks the southern tip of China, a computer program called Lengpudashi is playing one-on-one poker against a dozen people at once, and it’s absolutely crushing them. Lengpudashi, which means “cold poker master” in Mandarin, is using a new artificial-intelligence technique to outbet and outbluff its opponents in a two-player version of Texas hold ’em.
The venue for the tournament is a modern-looking technology park in Haikou, capital of the island of Hainan. Outside, modern high-rises loom over aging neighborhoods. Those gathered to play the machine include several poker champs, some well-known Chinese investors, entrepreneurs, and CEOs, and even the odd television celebrity. The games are being broadcast online, and millions are watching. The event symbolizes a growing sense of excitement and enthusiasm for artificial intelligence in China, but there’s also a problem. Lengpudashi wasn’t made in Hainan, Beijing, or Shanghai; it was built in Pittsburgh, U.S.A.