In July 2017, China unveiled its ‘New Generation of Artificial Intelligence Development Plan’, which outlines the country’s pathway to becoming the world’s leading power in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2030. To achieve this goal, China is strategically refashioning its higher education sector as a launchpad for talent. Similarly, India, an emerging economy, is striving to build itself into a knowledge economy so it can compete in the global market and pursue sustainable socio-economic growth and development. In June 2018, India’s NITI Aayog, Indian government’s policy think tank, released a discussion paper on the ‘National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence,’ which incorporates higher education among sectors of focus. This paper offers a comparative study of India and China in higher education reforms for the development of talent in artificial intelligence (AI), and in AI research. It analyses the AI development plans and strategies of the two countries, their automation readiness index, talent retention, and research output. The analysis is based on both primary and secondary sources including interviews, government and industry reports, and recognised rankings. The paper concludes that AI is no easy path for either country. Other than tangible and material factors, institutional commitment to excellence, politically open environment and the motivation of individual researchers to unlock the potential of AI will, in the long run, determine who gets into the top echelons.
Romi Jain, University of British Columbia, Canada