AI Industry in China and the United States:“Convergence” Should Exceed “Competition”
As the debate on artificial intelligence continues, the ways in which Chinese science and technology companies can adapt to and promote international AI development has become the focus of China’s artificial intelligence industry in the shadow of the fierce competition from European and American companies. With regards to the competition between Chinese and American AI industries, both markets are especially eager to outdo each other.
Most experts argue that 2018 will witness a boom in the growth of artificial intelligence. China-us trade frictions mostly come from the race for dominance in artificial intelligence.
The advantages of the AI industry in China and the United States
As for the China-us competition in AI, Han Bicheng, the CEO of Brainco, said that China has been working hard and will one day have the edge over the United States. As for investment funding, in 2017, worldwide investment in artificial intelligence totaled USD 15.2 billion, with China accounting for 48% of this figure and the United States accounting for 38%. In the next five years, China will invest another USD 150 billion to support the AI industry at the national level. As for corporate financing, Unisound, Huawei, face++ and other companies have recently raised hundreds of millions of dollars.
“This phenomenon is rare in the United States, and the increase in China’s investment will definitely push forward the development of the entire industry,” Han said.
From the perspective of investment, Tong Shihao, the Manager of Granite Global Ventures, believes that the ChinaUS disparity in the AI competition is gradually being narrowed down.
“Silicon Valley is the leading force in AI technology, but there is one aspect that Google doesn’t perform well in, which is data. On the contrary, Amazon surpasses Google in terms of consumer data.” Tong pointed out that Chinese companies, such as Ali and Tencent, have even more data than American technology corporations.
Taking Tencent as an example, Tong argued that Tencent can build perfect databases of daily data through Wechat and QQ. Therefore, relatively speaking, the amount of consumer data collected by Chinese companies will grow bigger.
It can be seen that China has seized many advantages in the AI industry. However, Wang Tao, CoFounder of Drive.ai said, “If we look at the ownership of technology companies, the patents regarding most artificial intelligence technologies belong to American companies.” Wang raised the example of Google, Amazon and other high-tech companies, which are located in North America. In terms of academic achievements, the breakthroughs in scientific research in recent years have also come from North America. China is doing well in its commercial applications, yet still falls behind America in terms of basic knowledge.
Hu a ng We i , t h e CEO of Unisound, believes that AI is a kind of capability. After evolving to a certain degree, the artificial intelligence industry should put more emphasis on how to apply the new technologies.
“There are more engineers and more industry talents in China,” explained Huang. As leading researchers are gradually turning to Chinese laboratories
and Internet companies, a large number of trained engineers and scientists continue to breathe new life into China’s AI industry.
According to Huang, given the massive inf lux of data, talents and capital into China, along with America’s solid basic theories about AI, China- US competition in the sphere of artificial intelligence is more like the peer-to-peer competition in the classroom: trying to compete with and surpass each other will certainly transform people’s lifestyles across the world.
The American tech giant’s praise for China reveals a trend of cooperation
Tim Cook, the Chief Executive Officer of Apple Corp, recently said that it was China’s huge manufacturing capacity that lured him to bring Apple’s business to the nation. As the nation steps up its efforts to implement the “Made in China 2025” strategy, the world is witnessing local talents and professionals’ research and development capabilities, Cook added.
“Chinese products are currently also known for their high quality, and the country is playing a leading role in innovation.” According to Cook, China is no longer a mere manufacturer, but is instead a nation with a dream, and the global business community is here to pay tribute to these achievements.
“Using the App Store as an example, China is seeing a boom in its developer community, which currently ranks top in the world in terms of numbers, downloads and income.” Cook commented that Chinese developers symbolize a new kind of labor force, which has access to clients from 155 countries and can market products worldwide through Apple’s open platform, producing an unprecedented effect.
“Artif icial intelligence has transformed the economy and society as it increasingly reshapes people’s work and lives.” Sundar Pichai, the Chief Executive Officer of Google, said that no company and no industry will be able to do it alone. Everyone has a role to play.
China has already played a big part in leveraging AI for a better future, Pichai said.
“Chinese scientists have done a good job of researching AI and contribute to a significant number of papers in scientific journals.” Pichai told the audience frankly that, when it comes to AI, Google wants to work alongside the world’s best talents. Many cases have come from China’s science and technology community. Many technologies involve traditional cultural heritage, such as China’s Go and some Chinese games which have been carried forward over thousands of years.
The advent of Alphago has enriched China’s Go tradition and has enabled players to become masters. Pichai pointed out that this is the ability of technology, to push people from all walks of life to pursue their own limits.
Speaking of challenges to artificial intelligence, Cook pointed out that corporations should not only pay attention to turnovers and profits, but should also shoulder the responsibility for the challenges facing China and the world. For example, creating new economic opportunities that benefit all communities, and supporting education as a means to promote equality and environmental protection.
Cook argued that these challenges needs to be addressed through collective efforts. “We need to produce better ideas through cooperation and coordination. Innovation breeds new innovation, as well as economic opportunities.”
There is no need to be overanxious about artificial intelligence
There is a much-debated question about whether AI will replace human labor. Eric Xing, a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, claimed that artificial intelligence is still in the primary stage, and that people being excessively anxious about the implications of AI is not necessary. The unique thinking process of human beings is still needed in many jobs where humans cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence.
“The current functions of artificial intelligence are mainly visual scene recognition, language scene recognition, natural language processing and translation, industrial robotic interactions and so on, and the current technology can’t yet be used for in- depth visual learning,” Xing said.
There are two main development modes for artificial intelligence at this stage. According to Xing, the first mode is to develop special AI algorithms and solutions for a certain project. The second mode, which he believes to be consistent with the future trend, is to develop sustainable and reusable AI technology.
“Nowadays, society is constantly debating the future of AI in employment, security, and interests, but there is no need to worry,” said Xing.
Xing pointed out that AI is still in its “Middle Ages”. Developers are still trying different methods and conducting research, and many of the corresponding results remain to be studied. There is still a long way to go for the popularization of AI.
“In the primary stage of AI, excessive anxiety is not necessary. New jobs will emerge as the times require, and to some extent, mankind cannot be replaced by technology.” He suggested that the government, society and people should maintain a rational attitude towards the new science and technology. At the same time, capital, policy and education should follow the times to accelerate the development of science and technology.
China has already played a big part in leveraging AI for a better future.