BRICS bloc of countries has set its sights on creating an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Study Group

This was revealed by Chinese president Xi Jinping during the BRICS Summit. South Africa hosted the annual summit of the BRICS bloc of emerging economies.  In a speech, the Chinese leader said AI is a new area of development.  Many nations are racing to achieve a global innovation advantage in AI because they understand it is a foundational technology that can boost competitiveness, increase productivity, protect national security and help solve societal challenges.

“BRICS countries have agreed to launch the AI Study Group of the BRICS Institute of Future Networks at an early date,” said Xi.  The BRICS Institute of Future Networks was established in 2016 and seeks to promote the practical cooperation of member states in the field of ICT.  “We need to enable the study group to play its full role, further expand cooperation on AI, and step-up information exchange and technological cooperation. We need to jointly fend off risks, and develop AI governance frameworks and standards with broad-based consensus, so as to make AI technologies more secure, reliable, controllable and equitable,” he added.

“We should increase people-to-people exchanges and promote mutual learning between civilisations. There are many civilisations and development paths in the world, and this is how the world should be. Human history will not end with a particular civilisation or system.” Xi’s comments come amid a fierce AI race between the US and China. AI investments in the US surpass China’s, totalling $26.6 billion (R495 billion) in the year to mid-June, versus China’s $4 billion (R74.5 billion), according to consultancy firm Preqin.

The Centre for Data Innovation recently issued a report comparing China, the European Union and the US in terms of their relative standing in the AI economy by examining six categories of metrics: talent, research, development, adoption, data and hardware. According to the report, despite China’s bold AI initiative, the US still leads in absolute terms. China comes in second, and the European Union lags further behind.  The Centre for Data Innovation recently said this order could change in coming years, as China appears to be making more rapid progress than the US and European Union.

Ahead of the summit, president Cyril Ramaphosa held bilateral talks with Xi during his fourth state visit to South Africa.

South Africa and the People’s Republic of China agreed to deepen their bilateral cooperation in areas such as training and digital technologies.  This isn’t the first time China has committed to strengthening SA’s technology development landscape. During Xi’s 2018 state visit to SA, the Asian country made a $14.7 billion investment commitment to the South African economy, saying a portion will go towards the science and technology sector.  

About the AI Media Group

The AI Media Group is a South African based industry analysis, publishing & business events consultancy specialising in the 4IR / smart tech sector in Africa.  They are curators of AI Expo Africa, the continent’s largest B2B/B2G Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) trade show and publishers of Synapse, the first quarterly trade magazine charting Africa’s 4IR innovation journey. The group also runs AI TV which hosts discussions on trends in AI and 4IR technologies with local, regional and global thought leaders.

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