AlphaGo is China's Sputnik moment:
The country laid out a development plan on Thursday to become the world leader in A.I. by 2030, aiming to surpass its rivals technologically and build a domestic industry worth almost $150 billion.
The plan comes with China preparing a multibillion-dollar national investment initiative to support “moonshot” projects, start-ups and academic research in A.I., according to two professors who consulted with the government about the effort.
The United States, meanwhile, has cut back on science funding. In budget proposals, the Trump administration has suggested slashing resources for a number of agencies that have traditionally backed research in A.I. Other cuts, to areas like high-performance computing, would affect the development of the tools that make A.I. work.
The two professors who consulted with the government on A.I. both said that the 2016 defeat of Lee Se-dol, a South Korean master of the board game Go, by Google’s AlphaGo had a profound impact on politicians in China. Then in May, Google brought AlphaGo to China, where it defeated the world’s top-ranked player, Ke Jie of China. Live video coverage of the event was blocked at the last minute in China.
As a sort of Sputnik moment for China, the professors said, the event paved the way for a new flow of funds into the discipline.