How Artificial Intelligence Shapes Our Knowledge

March 18, 2019 by Sam Hemmant

In February 2019, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte inaugurated Elsevier’s new TechHub located in Amsterdam. The visit highlights the Dutch focus on joint technology development between government, academia, and industry to support world-class talent developing innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Late last year, Elsevier published a new analytic report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) through a collective effort from Elsevier Labs experts, as well as leading external AI experts such as Amsterdam Data Science and the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence. The report showcases how Artificial Intelligence is already influencing global society and was a major driving force for the creation of the Amsterdam TechHub.

Global trends in AI research

While Artificial Intelligence research spreads over numerous areas and can be viewed from different perspectives—media, industry, research and teaching—the Elsevier report, titled "Artificial Intelligence: How knowledge is created, transferred, and used – Trends in China, Europe and United States" finds little overlap between these different aspects.

The report shows variations in how Artificial Intelligence is received and integrated into the respective fields.

  • Industry tends to emphasise the development of algorithms in order to streamline their production processes and management.
  • The public focuses more on increasing the relevance of AI to society and raising potential ethical concerns.

Disparities like these have inspired experts to call for a common language and a strengthening of cross-border communication to better connect the global AI ecosystem.


In order to support intensified cooperation between different stakeholders, a international collaboration in the area of AI is needed. The Elsevier Report estimates that the global growth of scientific output, including publications, conferences, competitions and software has increased approximately 5.3 percent annually in the last decade and 12.9 percent in the last five years.

While Artificial Intelligence is a global phenomenon, Elsevier was able to track particular regional differences in AI activity, with a special emphasis on Europe, China and the U.S.

According to the report, Europe is still the largest actor in AI research, despite ongoing growth rates and increased governmental and industrial ambition from China. At the same time the U.S. was able to regain some ground in comparison to their recent scores.

Regional AI aspirations

China’s ongoing effort to spearhead the global development of AI is not only supported by ambitious national policies but also by an attractive research environment. The report sees several trends in China:

  • An inflow of AI experts and researchers enticed by China’s commitment to AI
  • Sustainable growth of China’s research and educational systems, complemented by an increasing scholarly output
  • A relatively low level of international collaboration in research, signalling the need for increased efforts to facilitate and support cooperative initiatives in the field of AI

Conversely, Elsevier stressed that Europe appears to be losing academic AI talent, despite currently being largest region in AI scholarly output. The European areas of focus reflect regional diversity, however the main focus for AI development centers on speech and face recognition, genetic programming, AI robotics and deep learning.

According to the report, the United States is leading the way in international AI competitions and is increasingly engaged in international collaboration on AI research. The country’s corporate sector is still able to attract AI talent, despite the Chinese competition. In addition, scholarly output and mobility indicate a robust academic sector—made possible due to a tradition of cross-sector joint labs. The report shows that AI research in the U.S. has a strong emphasis on specific algorithms and separates different kinds of recognition technology, such as speech and image recognition into distinct clusters.

While the U.S., China and Europe build the framework of the Elsevier report, other key contributors in AI research are also noted for their efforts. The rapid emergence of India in AI research, as well as current developments in Russia, Canada and The Netherlands are seen within the global picture of an increasing awareness of the use of AI datasets, both on a scholarly and on a industrial level and an increasing collaboration is the key to success.

What next?

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