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China is seeking to become a “cyber superpower”

Supercomputers have their origins in national security. The biggest are still mostly paid for by governments, and continue to bolster countries’ national self-esteem. For decades, it was axiomatic that the fastest of these computers would mostly be American, or at least use American chips. No longer. When Top500, a website, released its latest list of the world’s fastest machines last November, 202 of them were Chinese, accounting for 35.4% of the list’s combined computing power; America’s 143 machines accounted for just 29.6%. Many of the Chinese computers, admittedly, use American chips. But the Sunway TaihuLight proudly uses chips made in China. Capable of performing 93,000trn calculations a second, it is currently by far the fastest supercomputer in the world.

No one would take the Top500 list as a broad measure of technological leadership. But it does reveal ambition. If you have smart people, money and a desire to appear on the list, you can. The same applies to dominating it. Xi Jinping, China’s president, wants to take the same approach to technology more generally. He talks of making China a “cyber superpower”—one that, within a dozen years, will lead the world in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, semiconductors and the coming “5G” generation of mobile networks, not to mention synthetic biology and renewable energy. The fact that over the past generation China has become a technological power comparable in many of its capabilities to Europe, Japan or America suggests that it is on the right track.


The original article is from the Economist’s blog:



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