China has what it takes for AI: CEO

By CHANG JUN in MENLO PARK, California | | Updated: 2017-05-25 23:24

China has what it takes for AI: CEO

Four factors – a huge talent pool, less-restrictive government policies, fiscally strong traditional industries that lag technologically, and the world's top mobile internet market – will stimulate development of artificial intelligence in China, several top AI scientists said on Tuesday.

The disruptive technology of AI, which has profoundly affected human society and everyday life, also represents the greatest opportunity in human history, and China remains a critical hub in the global development of AI, said Kai-Fu Lee, founder and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, in a keynote speech at the Rosewood Sand Hill resort in Menlo Park.

Lee shared his optimism about AI's future with about 200 investors, entrepreneurs and scholars in Silicon Valley.

On May 15, when he was invited to talk at the commencement at Columbia University's engineering school, he predicted that AI will deprive human beings of jobs, but displaced workers can "take up careers spreading love and experiences – whether a passionate tour guide, an attentive concierge, a funny bartender, an infectious sushi chef".

In Silicon Valley, however, Lee spent considerable time explaining why China will become a world leader in AI.

China's young talent, the government's utilitarian approach, a booming internet market and capital-abundant traditional industries that are eager to adopt advanced technologies — all those factors combined — add up to a solid foundation for AI development, Lee said.

Chinese scholars are actively involved in AI research, and approximately 43 percent of top-notch academic papers relating to AI were published with one or more Chinese authors.

Chinese young men and women receive well-rounded mathematics, engineering and science training throughout their school years, and an influx of young talent has and will become the quintessential foundation of any new industry, such as AI, said Lee.

Big-data wise, China has about 800 million connected mobile internet users. Tech giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, for example, all invest heavily in AI in order to upgrade and scale their services and products, Lee said.

The consumer mobile internet is more advanced in China than in the US and it is leading in areas such as mobile payments, mobile gaming, mobile communications, he added.

Andrew Ng, a former chief scientist at Baidu, where he has been leading the company's AI group for almost three years, echoed Lee at a panel discussion by saying the 1,300-staff Baidu team is now stocked with talent.

He said Baidu is one of the few companies in the world with world-class expertise in every major AI area: speech, NLP (natural language processing), computer vision, machine learning, and Knowledge Graph, a knowledge base used by Google to improve its search engine’s results with semantic-search information from a variety of sources.

Many traditional Chinese companies historically lag their American counterparts in technology adoption, but they are eager and financially able to embrace new opportunities arising from AI.

The US excels at inventing new technology, and China is good at creating and quickly monetizing AI products, Ng said.

Compared to the restrictive government policies toward AI research and applications in the sharing economy, such as autonomous vehicles in the US, China has taken a less taxing and more utilitarian approach and would allow trials and experimental efforts, Lee said.

Because Chinese citizens are less concerned about data usage than their US counterparts, AI development tends to be more vigorous, he added.

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349