According to former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, America has “dropped the ball” in financing basic science in the fight for tech dominance between the US and China.
And that’s one of the biggest reasons why China managed to catch up.
Dr. Schmidt, now Chair of the Innovation Board of the U.S. Department of Defense, said he feels the U.S. is already ahead of China in tech advancement, right now.
But the distance rapidly narrows.
Eric Schmidt criticizes the US
“In China, there is a strong emphasis on innovation and modern AI techniques,” he told the program Talking Business Asia of the BBC. “China has now caught up in the race for printing articles.”
According to data from the World Economic Forum, China replaced the US as the world’s biggest science and engineering research publisher in 2018.
That’s important because it reveals how more China is focused on R&D relative to the US.
Chinese telecoms technology conglomerate Huawei, for example, spends as much as $20bn (£15.6bn) on research and development-one of the world’s largest budgets.
This research and development lets Chinese software companies get ahead in main fields such as artificial intelligence and 5G.
Dr Schmidt blamed the closing of the US-China innovation divide on the lack of US support.
“The US has been the unquestioned king in R&D for my whole life,” said the former Google boss. Lately, R&D has fallen to a smaller percentage level than it was before Sputnik.”
According to the Information Technology and Innovation Center, a US technology advocacy organization, the US government is now spending less in R&D than it has in more than 60 years, relative to the scale of the economy.
Eric Schmidt has said the U.S. Tech dominance was on the basis of the foreign talent and to work and learn in the U.S. He warns the U.S. risks slipping further behind if such talent is not to join the world.