It has been a tradition for Chinese president Xi Jinping to address his citizens from inside his office at the beginning of the year, offering wishes and stating his plans for the coming months. This time, he has vowed that China will be the keeper of international order.
And with his New Year’s Day greeting, the bookshelf behind him has also become the subject of a customary inspection for some observers, according to Quartz.
It appears that each year, the citizens are subtly given a glimpse of what the leader has been reading lately.
In 2018, netizens were able to spot two books about artificial intelligence: Pedro Domingo’s “The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World” and Brett King’s “Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane”.
“The Master Algorithm“, released in 2015, discusses the influence machine learning can have on science, business, politics, and even war.
In his book, Domingos describes “five tribes which each emphasize a different method of machine learning: inductive reasoning, connectionism, evolutionary computation, Bayes theorem and analogical modeling.”
The author further envisions a “master algorithm” in the future, which allows technology that permits “machine learning algorithms to asymptotically grow to a perfect understanding of how the world and people in it work.”
In “Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane,” Australian futurist King describes technologies in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Experience Design, Smart Infrastructure, and HealthTech and their impact on society in the next 20 years. In 2016, the book topped the top 10 non-fiction bestsellers in North America.
Observers note that Xi having these books on his shelf is no accident, and could safely be interpreted as a sign of how serious China is with its plans on dominating AI technologies. In 2017, China expressed its desire to be the world leader in AI by 2025, with plans of making the country’s domestic industry worth $150 billion by 2030. Reuters reported that a $2 billion AI research park is already being built in China.
Alphabet (Google) executive chairman Eric Schmidt has spoken about how China is on its way for global dominance in the field of AI, according to Business Insider. During the Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit in November, Schmidt warned that if the United States government failed to act soon, China is already poised to overtake them in AI research.
“Trust me, these Chinese people are good,” he said, noting how multiple Chinese companies are investing millions of dollars for research in the development of the technology.
“It’s pretty simple,” Schmidt was quoted as saying. “By 2020 they will have caught up. By 2025 they will be better than us. And by 2030 they will dominate the industries of AI. Just stop for a sec. The [Chinese] government said that.”
Xi’s speech, which was broadcast across China by state news TV station CCTV on Dec. 31, mainly discussed the nation’s “great achievements” both domestically and internationally in 2017:
“China will resolutely uphold the authority and status of the United Nations, actively fulfill China’s international obligations and duties, remain firmly committed to China’s pledges to tackle climate change, actively push for the Belt and Road Initiative, and always be a builder of world peace, contributor of global development and keeper of international order. The Chinese people are ready to chart out a more prosperous, peaceful future for humanity, with people from other countries.”
Trump, who is too busy to read books, released a moving montage of him signing documents and people cheering for him during speeches to mark the end of 2017.
What a year it’s been, and we’re just getting started. Together, we are MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! Happy New Year!! pic.twitter.com/qsMNyN1UJG
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017
Feature Image via YouTube / CCTV