Sil­i­con Val­ley eyes op­por­tu­ni­ties in China

Dif­fer­ent de­vel­op­ment stages, but a lot to co­op­er­ate

Global Times - Weekend - - TECH - Xin­hua

China is poised to win a longterm race against the US in high-tech de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties as the world’s most pop­u­lous coun­try is in­vest­ing more in science and ed­u­ca­tion than the US, a Sil­i­con Val­ley se­nior ex­ec­u­tive said on Tues­day.

“The US ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem ranked 30th in math, 23rd in science and 17th in read­ing in the world, but China is the first in all three. With no changes to this sit­u­a­tion, it can hardly con­vince me that the US will win the long-term bat­tle to dom­i­nate high tech,” said Casey Roche, a 40-year vet­eran in the field of Sil­i­con Val­ley star­tups, in re­sponse to a com­ment on China and the US by a fa­mous ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) ex­pert in the high-tech com­mu­nity at a re­cent in­no­va­tion fo­rum in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Ad­dress­ing the 2018 Sil­i­con Val­ley In­no­va­tion and En­trepreneur­ship Fo­rum (SVIEF 2018) that ended Sun­day in the heart of the South Bay Area, Li Kaifu, CEO of Si­no­va­tion Ven­tures and for­mer head of Google China, said in a key­note speech that it does not mat­ter whether China is lead­ing the US in tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment or vice versa be­cause of their strik­ingly dif­fer­ent mod­els of de­vel­op­ment.

The US growth is driven by re­search and a vi­sion that en­cour­ages bril­liance in ideas, while China is ap­pli­ca­tion- and re­sults-driven, lead­ing to a re­silient Chi­nese model of en­trepreneur­ship, Li told a large con­gre­ga­tion at the SVIEF 2018 an­nual con­fer­ence de­signed to show­case and en­cour­age the cre­ativ­ity of young en­trepreneurs.

This year’s SVIEF fo­cused on blockchain and AI tech­nol­ogy that ap­pealed to both se­nior cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives and startup en­gi­neers who held high hopes for the next gen­er­a­tion of in­no­va­tion slated to shape the fu­ture.

“The US is way ahead in re­search and has been at the cen­ter of ev­ery tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion in the past 30 years. Chi­nese en­trepreneurs can find in­spi­ra­tion and learn from it,” Li said.

Re­gard­ing the US as a teacher at the early stages of de­vel­op­ment, China man­aged to de­velop a com­pletely dif­fer­ent and ex­cit­ing way of build­ing im­preg­nable busi­nesses, said the pres­i­dent of Si­no­va­tion Ven­tures.

In the last 10 years, China has seen a huge in­crease in cap­i­tal in­vest­ment from “smart ven­ture cap­i­tal (VC)” that helps smart en­trepreneurs build prod­ucts and com­pa­nies, Li said.

Due to the com­bined suc­cess of the two, China has seen a growth of “150 mil­lion to about 800 mil­lion users – by far the largest user base in the world,” which has in ef­fect cre­ated “a sys­tem that par­al­lels Sil­i­con Val­ley,” Li said.

Look­ing for­ward, China will take ad­van­tage of its busi­ness model to build AI tech­nol­ogy and ap­pli­ca­tions, he said, adding that China will prob­a­bly be ahead in four or five years in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of AI tech­nol­ogy, while the US will con­tinue to lead re­search for the next 10 or 15 years. How­ever, their com­pe­ti­tion is not a zero sum game as there are two dif­fer­ent sys­tems that con­trib­ute to the over­all global tech­no­log­i­cal suc­cess, Li said.

As for the ground­break­ing blockchain tech­nol­ogy that would ul­ti­mate- ly lead to mass de­cen­tral­iza­tion across in­dus­tries, Pro­fes­sor Shoucheng Zhang of Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity ex­pounded on the cycli­cal na­ture of cen­tral­iza­tion and de­cen­tral­iza­tion.

The key el­e­ment of blockchain that would ul­ti­mately con­trib­ute to de­cen­tral­iza­tion is rep­re­sented by its con­sen­sus-reach­ing mech­a­nism, Zhang said.

With blockchain’s “proof of work” al­go­rithm, data is ef­fi­ciently gath­ered and fed to AI, he said, not­ing that blockchain tech­nol­ogy can be ap­plied to health­care, ed­u­ca­tion, vot­ing, fi­nance, com­merce, and even en­ergy man­age­ment.

SVIEF 2018 is the largest cross­bor­der high-tech con­fer­ence held in the Bay Area, which touched upon thought-pro­vok­ing top­ics rang­ing from AI, blockchain, au­ton­o­mous driv­ing and new me­dia to ed­u­ca­tion.

Photo: VCG

Vis­i­tors take pic­tures at the Google logo in Shang­hai on Septem­ber 27.

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