What’s happening to the AI class in China?

2024. 3. 4. 19:56
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What goes around comes around. The government has already sealed the fate of the country.

HAN WOO-DUKThe author is a senior reporter of the China Lab. “Disgrace,” “catastrophe,” and “shock.” Korean media outlets chose such words for the headlines of reports that the country’s science and technology level has been overtaken by China. Disappointment, regret, and anger are mixed. What on earth happened in the two countries’ science and technology fields?

In May 2023, a publishing party was held in Beijing, attended by major scientific and technological figures in China. It was a celebration of the publication of the “China Science and Technology 2035 Development Strategy Series,” promoted by government organizations, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China for three years. The series consists of 38 books, including 18 on basic science such as physics and mathematics, and 19 on future technologies such as AI and quantum physics.

It was a project to summarize the current and future development strategies of China’s science and technology. More than 400 top scientists led the project, and more than 3,000 researchers participated. Baek Seo-in, a professor of Chinese studies at Hanyang University, clicked his tongue and said, “I am overwhelmed by the depth and width of the research. It shows how thoroughly China’s science and technology advancement is being carried out.”

Nurturing talent is also noteworthy. Tsinghua University, the top science and engineering college in China, has a department called “AI Class.” It is not a regular department. The class is newly formed by selecting the best talent among freshmen in mathematics, physics, and electronic engineering. Students who won prizes in high school in national math and computer competitions are also eligible for selection. They are opening the future of China’s AI technology.

Tsinghua University also has a class specializing in computer science and a QI class studying quantum mechanics. The selection and teaching methods are not different from the AI Class. They invite top domestic and foreign professors for classes and support overseas study. This shows how aggressively and flexibly universities are responding to nurture science and technology talent.

Behind it is the government. China selects key strategic technologies according to the “national intensive R&D plan” and concentrates resources thusly. Target technologies will expand to aerospace, supercomputers, AI, and new energy like a living organism. The government, companies, universities, and research institutes are working together to develop science and technology.

What about Korea? The government is facing backlash from the scientific community as the Yoon Suk Yeol administration cut R&D budgets. A tight “research network” cannot be formed between the government, companies and academia. Science and engineering talent has long shunned the field.

With the administration announcing a plan to increase the number of new medical students by 2,000, they are eager to quit their jobs and try college admissions again. Then, the government is making a fuss over the “catastrophe” of Korea falling behind China. That is “catastrophe.” What goes around comes around. The government has already sealed the fate of the country.

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