China experiments with AI to create its ‘intelligent’ nation

It should be of no surprise to learn that AI is considered a national priority for China – various policy statements and plans point to their strong investment & focus (2017: the AIDP, 2015: Made in China 2025). China plans to build a domestic AI industry worth nearly USD$150bn in the next few years and become a leading AI power.

To build greater wealth, economic and social power requires knowledge, creativity and capability in your population. So China’s experiment with AI in education is a natural strategic priority. Enter Squirrel AI – a personalised tutoring startup using AI algorithms.

Early experiments with Squirrel AI point to a significant confidence boost in students and their test scores. One student, struggling in high-school level mathematics, was able to increase his test scores from 50% to 62.5% from one semester tutoring. Two years later, the same student scored 85% in his final exams. Squirrel AI is one of many learning & development focused AI startups.

How this will change education and learning remains to be seen. Will it create a generation of rote learners or will it help with creating greater opportunity equality? Will China truly lead the world in AI driven innovation?

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