Artificial intelligence companies have burst onto the scene, pursuing a wide range of smart technologies.Credit: O’Reilly Conferences, Creative Commons The Hollywood version of artificial intelligence is Scarlett Johansson’s disembodied, Siri-like voice learning to fall in love. But artificial intelligence in the real world looks more like TikTok, a blaze of algorithms calculating dance and music video preferences. At its core, artificial intelligence is advanced machine learning, an emerging technology that encompasses natural language processing, facial recognition, robotics and autonomous vehicles. That also makes it a tool or weapon and thereby places it at the center of the increasingly contentious digital arms race now playing out between the U.S. and China.Several Chinese AI firms, including SenseTime and iFlytek, are on the U.S. Entity List, meaning American firms are restricted from exporting to them. The firms were sanctioned because of their ties to the Chinese military or surveillance operations targeting ethnic minorities in China’s western region of Xinjiang. But it’s not nations that are leading the charge to Subscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.