China was late to the last industrial revolution, but with the arrival of AI it is determined not to miss the next one.

The Chinese government is introducing a textbook called “Fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence” to 40 high schools, according to the South China Morning Post. It describes the history of AI and how the technology can be applied in areas like facial recognition, autonomous driving, and public security.

China wants to be a world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. To get there, it is equipping students with basic AI knowledge (Picture: East China Normal University Press)

Last year, the central government asked the country’s education policy makers to include AI courses in primary and secondary schools.

The nine-chapter book was penned by an all-star lineup, including the chairman of one of the world’s most valuable AI startups, SenseTime. The company is best known for providing China’s police with facial recognition-based surveillance software.

The opening chapter, titled “Artificial Intelligence: The Beginning of a New Era”, follows the story of a young man named Ming Ming in the year 2028. Each morning, he wakes up to the soothing voice of a virtual assistant, eats breakfast prepared by a cooking robot, and travels around in a self-driving car.

The book is available online for 35 yuan (US$5.5).

China is keen to produce more talent as it races to become a global AI leader. The Chinese government estimates that demand for AI professionals may surge to 5 million in the coming years. But a report from Tencent Research Institute says the US still leads China in both the quantity and quality of AI workers.

Yet China may hold at least one advantage. Lu Qi, a Baidu executive who was formerly a deputy to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, has said the country’s AI industry benefits from strong government support and access to a massive amount of data.