Nations worldwide are mobilizing to harness the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) given its massive potential to shape global competitiveness over the coming decades. Using a dataset of 2.2 million AI papers, we study inter-city citations, collaborations, and talent migrations to uncover dependencies between Eastern and Western cities worldwide. Beijing emerges as a clear outlier, as it has been the most impactful city since 2007, the most productive since 2002, and the one housing the largest number of AI scientists since 1995. Our analysis also reveals that Western cities cite each other far more frequently than expected by chance, East–East collaborations are far more common than East–West or West–West collaborations, and migration of AI scientists mostly takes place from one Eastern city to another. We then propose a measure that quantifies each city’s role in bridging East and West. Beijing’s role surpasses that of all other cities combined, making it the central gateway through which knowledge and talent flow from one side to the other. We also track the center of mass of AI research by weighing each city’s geographic location by its impact, productivity, and AI workforce. The center of mass has moved thousands of kilometers eastward over the past three decades, with Beijing’s pull increasing each year. These findings highlight the eastward shift in the tides of global AI research, and the growing role of the Chinese capital as a hub connecting researchers across the globe.
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