China’s drive likely to make AI ‘OS of fu­ture’

Oz pro­fes­sor says coun­try ca­pa­ble of lead­ing global ef­fort to gov­ern tech It (China) is very well placed to take ad­van­tage of the com­ing AI rev­o­lu­tion.”

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business -

Aug 18, 2017.

SYDNEY — Around the world, the shift to­ward a more au­ton­o­mous fu­ture has been her­alded by some as the har­bin­ger of end times, while oth­ers are adamant that the sen­tient com­puter-driven rev­o­lu­tion will usher in a new era of tech­no­log­i­cal progress — the likes of which have never been seen in hu­man his­tory, let alone imag­ined.

As coun­tries and com­pa­nies race to be at the fore­front of this new tech­no­log­i­cal sec­tor of dis­cov­ery, one sci­en­tist be­lieves that China is ex­tremely well-placed to ben­e­fit from the ex­cit­ing fu­ture that ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence or AI has to of­fer the world.

Toby Walsh, a pro­fes­sor of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence at Aus­tralia’s Uni­ver­sity of New South Wales, spoke to me­dia re­cently at his fully pur­posed ro­bot lab on cam­pus and said that with the cur­rent shift to­ward a con­sump­tion-driven econ­omy, the stage is set for China to ben­e­fit im­mensely from the AI rev­o­lu­tion.

“China is mak­ing a very sen­si­ble bet here on AI. It is very well placed to take ad­van­tage of the com­ing AI rev­o­lu­tion. It has a lot of data, it has lots of big tech com­pa­nies which are well po­si­tioned to de­velop,” Walsh said.

“It is mak­ing very strong bets in this area, so I imag­ine that China is go­ing to do very well out of this rev­o­lu­tion.”

The State Coun­cil, China’s Cabi­net, has an­nounced the Next Gen­er­a­tion Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence Plan that will see the coun­try take steps to be­come a global in­no­va­tion cen­ter in this field.

AI has al­ready be­gun to man­i­fest it­self in ways which most peo­ple do not re­al­ize, and Walsh said that it has been hap­pen­ing as a grad­ual process and will con­tinue to do so, al­beit at a some­what faster pace as the tech­nol­ogy im­proves and de­vel­ops.

“AI is be­com­ing more and more wide­spread in our lives, peo­ple don’t re­al­ize it’s there. Ev­ery time you speak to your smart­phone, ev­ery time you get a prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tion, ev­ery time you use the satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem in your car, you are us­ing a bit of AI,” Walsh said.

“Even­tu­ally, it will be­come like elec­tric­ity, it will be ev­ery­where. In ev­ery room, in ev­ery car, in ev­ery de­vice, we will be us­ing AI — it will be the op­er­at­ing sys­tem (or OS) of the fu­ture.”

China’s role in the AI sphere

a pro­fes­sor of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence at Aus­tralia’s Uni­ver­sity of New South Wales is also com­fort­ing to Walsh, who said that he feels wor­ried that the ben­e­fits of the rapid ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy that will be made, will po­ten­tially be too iso­lated as they are of­ten “win­ner take all mar­kets” driven by the net­work ef­fects of the tech­nol­ogy.

“There’s only one search en­gine on the planet — Google — out­side of China. There’s only one so­cial me­dia net­work on the planet — Face­book — out­side of China. There’s only one tweet-mes­sag­ing ser­vice on the planet — Twit­ter — out­side of China,” Walsh said.

“The rea­son that China has had the good sense to pro­tect its own mar­ket is that they then have some com­pe­ti­tion, and if we don’t do enough, there will be so much power, so much wealth, con­cen­trated in the hands of a few cor­po­raHOHHOT tions that they will be wealth­ier than coun­tries, and they are not an­swer­able like coun­tries to the peo­ple.”

As China con­tin­ues to make rapid ad­vance­ments in the AI field and con­tin­ues to invest heav­ily in the re­search and de­vel­op­ment of this emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy, re­cent stud­ies show that China is poised to be­come and pos­si­bly sur­pass all oth­ers in the pur­suit of AI tech­no­log­i­cal em­i­nence.

A re­cent McKin­sey Global In­sti­tute re­port sug­gested that China will be able to de­ploy AI tech­nol­ogy suc­cess­fully due to its “wide range of in­dus­tries prov­ing a fer­tile mar­ket for de­ploy­ment”. In ad­di­tion, China could also po­ten­tially broaden the scope from the do­mes­tic level to a more in­ter­na­tional ap­proach.

“Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence has the po­ten­tial to fun­da­men­tally shape our so­ci­ety for many decades to come. It is a uniquely pow­er­ful tool that China can de­ploy to boost its pro­duc­tiv­ity and main­tain its growth tra­jec­tory,” the re­port said.

“The tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly global. China has the ca­pa­bil­ity and op­por­tu­nity to lead in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion in the de­vel­op­ment and gov­er­nance of AI.”

HAO QUNYING / FOR CHINA DAILY

A mother (left) ex­plains to her young son the func­tions of an in­tel­li­gent ro­bot at a tech­nol­ogy ex­hi­bi­tion in Han­dan, He­bei prov­ince, on

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