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极速飞艇2: 与中国竞争,美国高校已渐渐不支

世界知识产权组织称,在人工智能领域排名前20的大学和公共研究机构中,有17家位于中国,而且中国科学院在榜单中排名第一。

就创新而言,美国依然领先于全球各大竞争对手,但对于时常被人们看作是新理念摇篮的美国各大高校来说,它们有理由为未来感到担心。

这一点在5G电话网络和人工智能领域尤为突出。无独有偶,唐纳德·特朗普总统最近一直强调美国必须在这些领域一马当先,但亚洲,尤其是中国,已经在这些领域迎头赶上。

研究公司GreyB Services称,中国、韩国及中国台湾地区的大学在无线通信领域的专利比其美国同僚更多。位于日内瓦的世界知识产权组织称,在人工智能领域排名前20的大学和公共研究机构中,有17家位于中国,而且中国科学院在榜单中排名第一。总的来说,美国大学依然是专利榜的老大,加州大学和麻省理工学院则处于榜首。

大学在研究工作的生态系统中有着特殊的地位。

企业实验室更倾向于关注的是,自己所确立的研发内容能够为其带来利润,但政府实验室却将国家安全放在首位。各所大学都在培养未来的科学家,而且也都是一些“天马行空”理念的孵化器,事实证明,其中的一些理念颠覆了整个行业和社会。案例包括谷歌的搜索引擎、支撑整个基因修改疗法的DNA科技?;褂忻鄞嗟钠还?。

十多年来,政府给大学提供的资助金金额一直没有什么变化??悸堑绞导室蛩?,这意味着拨款额度反而有所下降,而且占经济的比例也在减小。

大学技术经理人协会的负责人史蒂芬·苏萨尔卡说:“看看联邦拨款就知道,事实上它们并没有发生太大的变化。其他的国家都在迎头赶上。我们不能一直吃老本?!贝笱Ъ际蹙砣诵崾且患壹际踝眯?,其成员包括800家大学。

2017财年用于大学研发的联邦资助金为400亿美元,略低于6年前的峰值。各大高校每年的总花费额约为750亿美元,其中的差额大部分来自于学校的自有资金。政府拨款所占的比例已经从2004年的近70%下滑至60%以下。

特朗普宣称,人工智能和5G将成为重点项目,但他却没有向国会申请更多的资金。事实上,美国政府去年便呼吁对研究资金进行大幅削减,包括削减美国国家科学基金会11%的经费。

国会对此表示反对,而且通过了十年以来最大幅度的涨幅,将总经费增至1760多亿美元。没有人知道最终有多少资金流向了大学,因为拨款流程由于为期35天的政府关门而中断。

超过半数的大学研究联邦资助金来自于美国卫生和人类服务部。这一点在美国大学获得的专利类型上得到了体现。知识产权管理软件公司Anaqua称,几乎四分之三的专利都集中在生命科学领域,而亚洲大学的生命科学专利则不到一半。

“应提供更多的资金”

针对IT研究的拨款往往源于五角大楼和美国国家科学基金会,每一家都会贡献约13%的大学研究资助金。

华盛顿信息技术与创新基金会的道格·布雷克说:“这不是一个小数目,但我认为应加大资助力度?!彼担骸罢飧鍪钟胫泄闹С窒啾仁俏⒉蛔愕赖??!?/p>

这种对比十分复杂,因为从某些方面来看,中国在研发方面的开支已经可以与美国媲美。

中国政府还投资了近100所美国大学,设立了孔子学院,以弘扬中国语言和文化。政府问责办公室称,这些学校均未获得直接的美国联邦资助。

如果要了解全球最大的两个经济体在创新方面的情况以及双方如何实现其创新的商业化,另一种方式便是调查知识产权使用的付费情况,例如专利、商标或版权。我们再次看到,美国依然处于领先地位,但中国也在迎头赶上。

美国将大学引入这一流程的做法已经得到了广泛的效仿。1980年颁布的一项法律允许大学保留通过政府资助而获得的专利。大学技术经理人协会的数据显示,各大高校在2017年总计收到了30多亿美元的授权费。它们提交了超过1.5万个专利申请,并帮助催生了1080家初创公司。

国家标准技术局的负责人沃尔特·科潘表示,该系统正在进行升级,这样研究便可以更加高效地被企业使用。

他说:“政府的工作是投资这些高风险的探索性领域。这对于美国竞争力来说至关重要?!?/p>

“喜闻乐见”

以上也是特朗普在上个月的行政令中所总结的内容。这篇2700字的文章并没有对中国指名道姓,但维持美国的“经济和国家安全”以及?;て淇萍济庠狻罢铰跃赫允值挠幸馐展骸钡却氪窃蚴敲魅返亟分赶蛄酥泄?。

文章倒是没有过多地提及资金的事情。加州大学伯克利分校主管研究业务的副校长兰迪·卡兹指出,该校现有的资金远远不能满足高质量研究工作的需求。仅有五分之一被认为有价值的项目最终得到了资助。

这也是为什么特朗普的人工智能发展命令需要在实际中进行一定的后续跟踪的原因。他说:“我们很高兴地看到它成为了国家的一项重要战略,但至于国家能够为此花多少钱,还得看国会的意见?!保ú聘恢形耐?/p>

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

The U.S. is still out in front of global rivals when it comes to innovation, but American universities –- where new ideas often percolate –- have reason to look over their shoulder.

That’s especially true for technologies like 5G phone networks and artificial intelligence. They’re exactly the fields where President Donald Trump recently insisted the U.S. has to lead — and also the ones where Asia, especially China, has caught up.

Universities from China, Korea and Taiwan get more patents than their U.S. peers in wireless communications, according to research firm GreyB Services. In AI, 17 of the top 20 universities and public research organizations are in China, with the Chinese Academy of Sciences topping the list, says the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva. Overall, American universities still dominate the patent rankings, led by the University of California and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

There’s a special place for universities in the ecosystem of research.

Corporate labs tend to focus on what they’re fairly sure will be profitable, while their government equivalents put national security first. Universities groom future scientist and can be incubators for pie-in-the-sky ideas –- some of which turn out to be game-changers. The list ranges from Google’s search engine to DNA technology that’s behind a whole industry of gene-manipulating treatments. Plus the Honeycrisp apple.

Government grants to universities have been stagnant for more than a decade, meaning they’ve declined in real terms and as a share of the economy.

“If you look at the federal dollars, they’ve not really changed substantially,’’ says Stephen Susalka, head of AUTM, a technology transfer association whose members include 800 universities. “Other countries are catching up. We can’t sit on our laurels.’’

Federal funding of $40 billion for university research in fiscal 2017 was slightly below its peak six years earlier. The colleges spend about $75 billion a year altogether, with the balance largely coming from their own funds. The government’s share has slipped below 60 percent, from almost 70 percent in 2004.

Trump has proclaimed AI and 5G to be high priorities, but hasn’t pitched Congress for more money. In fact, last year the administration called for deep cuts in research funding, including an 11 percent hit to the National Science Foundation.

Congress balked and instead passed the biggest increase for a decade, bringing the total to more than $176 billion. How much will go to universities remains unclear, because the grant process was interrupted by a 35-day government shutdown.

More than half of federal cash for university research comes from the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s reflected in the types of patents U.S. universities are getting. Almost three quarters are in the life sciences, compared with less than half at Asian universities, according to intellectual property-management software firm Anaqua.

‘Should Be More’

Grants for IT research tend to originate at the Pentagon and the NSF, which each contribute about 13 percent of university funding.

“That’s not nothing,’’ says Doug Brake at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation in Washington. “But I’d argue there should be more,’’ he says. “It pales in comparison to the type of support the Chinese engage in.’’

Comparisons are tricky, but by some measures China’s spending on research and development now rivals America’s.

The Chinese government also is investing in nearly 100 U.S. universities, which have Confucius Institutes to promote Chinese language and culture. None of those schools receive direct U.S. federal funding, according to the Government Accountability Office .

Another way to look at innovation in the world’s two biggest economies, and how they commercialize it, is to study payments made for the use of intellectual property – like patents, trademarks or copyrights. Here again, the U.S. still holds a lead but China is advancing.

The American way of bringing universities into this process has been widely emulated. A 1980 law allows them to keep patents that stem from government-funded research. Universities received more than $3 billion in gross licensing income in 2017, according to AUTM. They filed more than 15,000 patent applications, and helped create 1,080 start-ups.

Walter Copan, head of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, says the system is being updated so that research can be delivered more efficiently into the hands of business.

The government’s job “is to invest in these high-risk exploratory areas,’’ he says. “This is of critical importance to U.S. competitiveness.’’

‘Great to See’

That’s pretty much what Trump concluded about AI in his executive order last month. China isn’t identified by name in the 2,700-word document. But the references to maintaining America’s “economic and national security,’’ and protecting its tech from “attempted acquisition by strategic competitors,’’ point clearly in that direction.

Money doesn’t get much of a mention, though. At the University of California in Berkeley, there’s significantly more high-quality work going on than there is cash available, says Randy Katz, the vice chancellor for research. Only about one in five proposals deemed to have merit ends up getting funded.

That’s why Trump’s AI order needs some practical follow-up, says Katz. “It’s great to see it’s a national priority,” he says. “It’s up to Congress to see how much money is going to be spent.’’

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