AI and Robotics Research Continues to Accelerate


AI research continues to accelerate despite the higher costs per breakthrough, as the US and China fight a cold war for AI supremacy.

Artificial intelligence and robotics research shows no signs of slowing down, despite the ever-increasing costs for meaningful breakthroughs, especially apparent in the machine learning and deep learning fields. 

According to an article by British scientific journal Nature, the number of high-quality journals on AI and robotics has been rising year-on-year at a rate that resembles an exponential growth curve. 

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Nature examined its own Index, which counted over 6,500 AI and robotics articles published in 2021 and Dimensions, one of the largest database of research insight in the world, and noticed a similar growth in published journals.

“It may not be unusual for burgeoning areas of science, especially those related to rapid technological changes in society, to take off quickly, but even by these standards the rise of AI has been impressive,” said Catherine Armitage, chief editor of Nature Index. “Together with robotics, AI is representing an increasingly significant portion of research volume at various levels, as these charts show.”

According to Nature Index, the United States is still the leading country for AI and robotics research, with over 2,500 of the journals published on Nature coming from academic institutions in the US. China had the largest percentage share change since 2015, surpassing the UK and Germany in 2017. 

Some universities are now seeing over 20 percent of their journals shared belonging to AI and robotics research. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have seen the most change in share since 2015.

US and China AI Research Cold War

It should be noted that while some research indexes have the US pegged as ahead in AI and robotics R&D, others believe China has surpassed them. In Stanford University’s annual AI Index, it said China had overtaken the US in overall journal citations in 2020, although the US had more cited papers at AI conferences. 

Whatever the case, the US and China are in a two horse race for AI supremacy. China’s government has made it clear it wants to be the leader in AI by 2030, with significant investment in academia to ensure this happens. The US has been trying to counteract China’s growth through sanctions on semiconductors and other components necessary to build AI supercomputers, alongside its own investment in US-built infrastructure. 

This shift in AI and robotics research, from independent study and private enterprise to government sanctioned research, should be alarming, especially as the Chinese government already uses AI for surveillance, citizen records, and in the military.

David Curry

About David Curry

David is a technology writer with several years experience covering all aspects of IoT, from technology to networks to security.

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