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The Chinafornia Newsletter - Debut of the #ChinAI project at MacroPolo

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December 12 · Issue #49 · View online
Matt Sheehan
Hi there Chinafornia readers,
I’m breaking the radio silence on this newsletter to share a major project we’ve just debuted over at MacroPolo, the Paulson Institute think tank where I work. The project is called ChinAI (link here), and it drills down on the country’s strengths and weaknesses in four key building blocks of an AI ecosystem: data, talent, firms, and public policy.
We gathered original data and built digital interactives to highlight the unique aspects of the Chinese ecosystem for each of those building blocks. Our hope is that by breaking things down in this way, we can start to clarify and concretize the conversation around Chinese AI.
For example, for the section on data you can click around a WeChat wallet to get a sense of the depth of data generated by users of the super-app.
For the section on AI talent, Jeff Ding of Oxford’s Governance of AI program came on board and helped us track where China ranks in elite AI research publications, and also the career trajectories of top Chinese researchers. If you’re not doing so already, you should follow Jeff’s excellent ChinAI newsletter.
Here’s my favorite part to play around with: an interactive relationship map showing the connections between China’s top AI startups, big tech firms, and venture capital investors. You can sort by industry, highlight specific hubs, or just click around to learn about the key players. Big props to my MacroPolo colleague Joy Dantong Ma for putting this together.

And finally, to help visualize how the government’s AI plan works at the local level, we built an interactive map of local AI-related projects around the country. (TLDR: lots of surveillance, some subsidies, and some interesting infrastructure adaptation.)
Here again is a link to the project’s landing page – go ahead, explore, and let me know what you think. My email: mattsheehan88@gmail.com
In the coming months we’re going to be expanding it with new sections on crucial topics: semiconductors, ethics, and AI safety. Stay tuned to this newsletter, the MacroPolo Twitter or MacroPolo newsletter for those updates.
Big thanks to Jeff Ding and Joy Dantong Ma for helping spearhead the content, and Annie Cantara and Chris Roche for design and execution on the beautiful site.
And finally, a quick update on my own book. After delivering the manuscript to my publisher in June and completing major edits in the fall, the book is now on its way to the copy editor for the more nuts and bolts revisions. The publishing world moves at its own pace, so the book itself will probably hit shelves in mid/late summer 2019. That’s later than I had hoped, but I think it’ll be worth the wait. Stay tuned!
Best,
Matt
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