To­ward the top of the AI heap

China Daily (Canada) - - PEOPLE - By OUYANG SHIJIA in­Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang ouyang­shi­jia@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

China has grad­u­ally emerged as a leader of the ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence or AI sec­tor world­wide. It has sur­passed the United States in terms of new patents in re­lated sphere, ac­cord­ing to a re­port.

The news co­in­cides with the Third World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence, which opened on Wed­nes­day in­Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

The re­port, pub­lished on Tues­day jointly by the Wuzhen In­sti­tute, a think tank, and NetEase Inc, a lead­ing Chi­nese IT com­pany, shows that since 2012, China has ex­ceeded the US in terms of new patent ap­pli­ca­tions and li­cens­ing.

How­ever, the US still tops the global list with over­all patents to­tal­ing 26,891, fol­lowed by China with 15,745.

Zhao Zim­ing, an an­a­lyst at in­ter­net con­sul­tancy Analysys, said: “AI is de­vel­op­ing rapidly in China. Es­pe­cially in its ap­pli­ca­tions, China is ahead of other coun­tries. As the tech­nol­ogy ma­tures, there is a high pos­si­bil­ity that China will catch up with the US and even be­come a world leader in the field of AI.

“In terms of ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies in AI, Chi­na­may still need a long time to develop and then sur­pass the US,” Zhao said.

Zhang Xiaodong, pres­i­dent of the Wuzhen In­sti­tute, noted that while China leads in the num­ber of new patents, the qual­ity of patents needs to be im­proved.

The re­port also shows Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Shen­zhen are at the fore­front of AI devel­op­ment in East Asia, and ac­count for 7.4 per­cent of the world’s AI firms.

Al­though there was a dip in the amount of AI in­vest­ments in re­cent months, the over­all per­for­mance is still ac­tive in China, the re­port said.

As more tech firms tap into the field of AI, global broad­caster BBC ex­pects the AI mar­ket size world­wide will reach 119 bil­lion yuan ($17 bil­lion) by 2020. And China’s is ex­pected to grow to 9.1 bil­lion yuan by the same year, ac­cord­ing to iRe­search Con­sult­ing Group.

Neil Shen, man­ag­ing part­ner of Se­quoia Cap­i­tal China, said that AI will be the new op­por­tu­nity in the next wave of tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion.

“So far, the boom­ing in­ter­net has ac­cel­er­ated the devel­op­ment of data ac­cu­mu­la­tion tech­nolo­gies to an un­prece­dented scale. As the tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pac­ity grows sig­nif­i­cantly, AI can tap into a lot of un­solved prac­ti­cal prob­lems in var­i­ous in­dus­tries.”

Cur­rently, AI finds many ap­pli­ca­tions in in­ter­net ad­ver­tis­ing and fi­nan­cial tech­nolo­gies. Health care is ex­pected to fol­low suit, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

AI can tap into a lot of un­solved prac­ti­cal prob­lems in var­i­ous in­dus­tries.”

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