America’s technological dominance is not what it used to be.

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So with all Swallowed by silver-tongued AI chatbots, it’s easy to forget that most of the flashy breakthroughs in science and technology are based on new algorithms, different computer architectures, and novel silicon chips in the fundamentals of computing.

Since the early days of computing, the US has largely dominated these areas of innovation. But according to a new report by academics who study the development of computer science, the US’s lead in advanced computing has declined significantly over the past five years – especially when measured against China.

It turns out that the U.S. no longer makes many of the world’s most advanced computer chips—a process that involves etching extremely complex designs into silicon with incredibly difficult methods. Apple and many other companies export to TSMC in Taiwan or Samsung in South Korea. That’s why the US government created the CHIPS Act, a $52 billion package aimed at revitalizing domestic chip manufacturing and related technologies.

The report: from MIT; Council on Competitiveness, Intelligence; And the investment firm Silicon Catalyst – America’s share of the world’s most powerful supercomputers has fallen sharply over the past five years.

And while the US traditionally dominates the development of new computer algorithms, some measures of algorithmic innovation—such as the Gordon Bell Prize—awarded to outstanding scientists working on advanced computing—signal that the US is losing its edge over China. The report summed up the overall trend with a pointed headline: “America’s dominance in advanced computing is about to disappear.”

The findings, on the one hand, are less surprising. China has experienced tremendous economic growth in recent decades, boosting its universities and technology industry, and making the country a leader in manufacturing innovation for many American businesses.

But it carries a message for the future that US policymakers may want to heed, especially when computer advances are critical to modeling incredibly complex phenomena in critical fields such as energy, climate science and medicine. .

MIT researcher Neil Thompson, who participated in the report, explained that modern AI such as ChatGPT and art-generating algorithms are built on the development of a specific computer chip – the graphics processing unit (GPU). They were originally invented to perform the tasks needed to render video game graphics, but have proven to be well-suited to the calculations used in an AI technique called deep learning.

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