AI In­dus­try in China and the United States:“Con­ver­gence” Should Ex­ceed “Com­pe­ti­tion”

China's Foreign Trade (English) - - Industrial Watch - By Tao Wu

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.

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