SINGAPORE -- China's capabilities in artificial intelligence are "much closer than I thought" to catching up to the U.S., former Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Nikkei Asia, stressing that America will not succeed without a "very strong partnership with our Asian friends."
In an online interview, Schmidt, now chair of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, said China is closing in on the U.S. in certain areas of AI and quantum computing -- faster than his previous estimate of "a couple of years."
Schmidt stepped down as executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet in 2018. He was nominated as the commission chair in 2019 to make AI-related policy recommendations to the president and Congress.
The commission's final report, released in March, warned that "if the United States does not act, it will likely lose its leadership position in AI to China in the next decade and become more vulnerable to a spectrum of AI-enabled threats from a host of state and non-state actors."
To win the tech competition with China, the U.S. must maintain its lead in "strategic" areas such as AI, semiconductors, energy, quantum computing and synthetic biology, Schmidt said.