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UN: US, China 'have stolen a lead' in artificial intelligence

UN: US, China 'have stolen a lead' in artificial intelligence
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A United Nations panel said in a report published Thursday that the U.S. and China are out in front of global competitors in the study and development of artificial intelligence.

Reuters reported that the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) report found U.S. firms IBM and Microsoft had the highest number of patents related to artificial intelligence, with 8,920 and 5,930, respectively. 

China is home to 17 of the top 20 academic institutions involving patenting artificial intelligence, Reuters reported.

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“The U.S. and China obviously have stolen a lead. They’re out in front in this area, in terms of numbers of applications, and in scientific publications,” WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry told reporters, according to Reuters.

The world's two largest economies have been locked in an escalating trade battle in recent months, triggered by the Trump administration imposing tariffs on Chinese imports. Beijing responded with duties on U.S. goods, and the two sides have engaged in tit-for-tat actions ever since.

The Trump administration has additionally accused China of stealing U.S. intellectual property, further complicating the dispute. 

The president is set to meet Thursday with the vice premier of China, though Trump tweeted on Thursday morning that a final trade deal can only be reached after he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping.