The US used to advance so fast that countries could only copy what the US did 20 years before

Michael Wessel, chairman of the congressional U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission, testified that 350,000 chinese students in the USA are “systematically stealing US technology”. Wessel said 20 percent of those working on advanced artificial intelligence at the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab are Chinese nationals. 30 of the 38 post-doctorial researchers at the University of Maryland’s Bing Nano Research Group are from China.

Michael Wessel has not properly analyzed the situation.

* total numbers of undergraduates and those not in STEM fields are not relevant
* About 64 percent of doctoral candidates and almost 68 percent in master’s programs last year were international students
* Most international students want to stay in the USA but the US has caps on H1-B and employment-based immigration is limited to 29,500 per country.
* the US has a shortage of citizens and permanent residents in doctoral STEM programs
* the US has more Artificial Intelligence talent but China is putting resources and effort to catch up
* Internal US incentives regarding student loans versus salaries are a factor
* The US has become slower in its technological development and progress. If SpaceX was not racing ahead with its successful reusable rocket and SpaceX BFR development then China would be passing a US dependent on the US Delta Heavy technology.

During WW2 and the decades after, there were technological spies and foreign students in the USA. But the USA was racing ahead with technological development and opportunities for graduates. The USA was brain draining other countries. The US was too busy creating atomic weapons, computers, personal computers and other technologies to need to worry if other countries copied what the USA was doing decades ago.

Closing the US off to foreign talent will hinder the ability of US companies to compete.

* China can hire American and other foreign professors to its domestic universities.
* China can buy technological companies
* China’s companies enter into arrangements for co-development of parts with many companies.

Overview of history of foreign students in the USA

There is long history of foreign students at US universities.

Iran had more than double the number of Taiwanese students studying in the USA in 1980. Why did Iran fail to develop technological industries while Taiwan developed computer supply companies and industries.

India has twice as many students studying in the USA as South Korea. Other than software, India has not been able to develop dominant technological companies comparable to South Korea.

Undergraduates do not matter as much

Part of the issue is that undergraduates do not matter much and only those studying STEM are the main factor involved in technology.

At the undergraduate level, 80 percent are United States residents. At the graduate level, the number is reversed: About 80 percent hail from India, China, Korea, Turkey and other foreign countries.

There are fewer Americans in hot STEM fields like computer science, which serve as talent pipelines for the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft: About 64 percent of doctoral candidates and almost 68 percent in master’s programs last year were international students, according to an annual survey of American and Canadian universities by the Computing Research Association.

Part of the reason is the booming job market in technology. Americans do not see the need for an advanced degree when there are so many professional opportunities waiting for them. The price is too high when they have so much student debt already.

The American Institute of Physics examined the issue of STEM and doctorates in Rapid Rise of China’s STEM Workforce Charted by National Science Board Report Jan 2018.

US retention of Grads

Most international students (48 percent) wish to stay in the United States after graduation, citing future job opportunities as the key factor influencing the desire to remain. Only 12 percent want to leave, but 40.5 percent are undecided. This latter group represents a sizeable pool of talented scientists and engineers who may—or may not—become part of the skilled U.S. workforce.

International students studying in the United States on temporary visas accounted for nearly two-fifths (39 percent) of all PhDs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in 2013—a proportion that has doubled over the past three decades.

Employer-sponsored H-1B visas remain the primary method for international individuals to reside in the United States. The 2017 fiscal year had a regular cap of 65,000 visas, with an additional 20,000 visas reserved for individuals who obtained U.S. master’s degrees or higher. Because employment-based immigration visas (i.e., permanent residency) are limited to 140,000 per year, are subject to an approximate 7 percent per country
limit (i.e., ~25,900 visas per country), and are allocated on a preference-based system.

Overall researchers and AI talent

World Bank data shows China now produces 1,177 R&D researchers per million of its population, three times the level in the 1990s and in line with the world average. The U.S. produces many more researchers per million – at 4,321 – but that is more than offset by China’s population being about four times the size.

According to the study, compiled by the Tencent Research Institute, there are just 300,000 “AI researchers and practitioners” worldwide, but the “market demand” is for millions of roles.

Tencent’s new “2017 Global AI Talent White Paper” suggests the bottleneck here is education. It estimates that 200,000 of the 300,000 active researchers are already employed in various industries (not just tech), while the remaining 100,000 are still studying. The US AI talent outnumbers China’s by about 2 or 4 to 1.

One independent AI lab says there were only 10,000 individuals worldwide with the right skills to spearhead serious new AI projects. The US has about 70-90% of the top AI talent.

The USA is currently far ahead in terms of global AI talent. The USA has more universities teaching machine learning and related subjects than any other nation, and more AI startups. America is home to more than 1,000 AI startups of the world’s total of 2,600, while China has nearly 600.