It’s great to be back in Taipei enjoying the glorious sunny weather. I just wish that my resistance to jet lag would increase with the more miles I fly. Unfortunately, the reverse seems to be the case.
When I was reviewing my trip notes this morning, it struck me that the country I mentioned the most in my scribblings was one that I didn’t even visit this time. No matter whether I was at Embedded World in Germany or Silicon Valley, I found myself constantly asking how the latest technology developments in the European and US markets stack up with those taking place in China.
Invariably, the answer was that when it comes to IoT and AI technologies, China is forging ahead not just in terms of innovation but also in the sheer scale of deployment. Facial recognition is probably the best example of an emerging AI application in which the country is establishing a global leadership position, but it’s by no means the only one. Robotics, drones, and autonomous vehicles also spring to mind.
Just as important is the speed and enthusiasm with which China’s government, industry, and consumers are embracing new technology adoption. There’s a sense of optimism and excitement about the benefits that AI and IoT will deliver that is unmatched anywhere else in the world – not to mention the willingness to back this up with serious investments and comprehensive policy initiatives.
In contrast, I couldn’t help but sense a certain level of defensiveness in the mood in Silicon Valley. No doubt this was in large part because of the growing criticism its leading lights are undergoing for their role in driving greater social and political polarization in the US and beyond, but the growing numbers of homeless people in cities like San Francisco and San Jose and crazy real estate prices point to fundamental problems in the model that has served the Valley so well for over forty years.
Instead of trying to establish democracy on Mars, perhaps Elon Musk should focus his considerable talents closer to home.