Artificial Intelligence, or A.I., is expected to play a growing role in business at almost every level in the years ahead, and the companies and countries with a head start in the field will gain a significant advantage. And China, through business and government collaboration, is poised to take a lead in A.I. in the near future.

Writing in Inc. magazine’s September issue, author and futurist Amy Webb, notes, “In the age of A.I., businesses that can use machine and deep learning techniques to mine, refine and make products from data culled from all areas of operation—from customer service to employee productivity—will gain a big edge.”

China’s President Xi Jinping is pushing a plan to make the country the leader in A.I. innovation by 2030, the article states. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, three of China's biggest companies sometimes collectively referred to as BAT, are part the coordinated effort, which Webb describes as a “well-capitalized” and “highly organized A.I. plan.” China’s push is attractive to startups in the U.S. and elsewhere as working with China’s large tech companies brings access to the otherwise hard-to- penetrate Chinese market.

The focus on A.I. and information on China’s 1.4 billion people gives the BAT companies unprecedented access to what Webb terms as the modern world’s most valuable resource, human data, which is an invaluable tool in the development of global digital commerce, autonomous vehicles and other technologies. While she doesn’t recommend pursuing a similar government-directed model for A.I. development here, Webb does see value in the public and private sectors working together to educate decision makers and write policy to help U.S. businesses succeed in the A.I. market.

For more on Webb’s article, click here.