China an­nounces goal of AI lead­er­ship by 2030 Chi­nese tech firms to get a shot in their arms

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

BEI­JING: China’s gov­ern­ment has an­nounced a goal of be­com­ing a global leader in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence in just over a decade, putting po­lit­i­cal mus­cle be­hind grow­ing in­vest­ment by Chi­nese com­pa­nies in de­vel­op­ing self-driv­ing cars and other ad­vances.

Com­mu­nist lead­ers see AI as key to mak­ing China an “eco­nomic power,” said a Cab­i­net state­ment on Thurs­day. It calls for de­vel­op­ing skills and re­search and ed­u­ca­tional re­sources to achieve “ma­jor break­throughs” by 2025 and make China a world leader by 2030. Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence is one of the emerg­ing fields along with re­new­able en­ergy, robotics and elec­tric cars where com­mu­nist lead­ers hope to take an early lead and help trans­form China from a na­tion of fac­tory work­ers and farm­ers into a tech­nol­ogy pi­o­neer.

They have is­sued a se­ries of de­vel­op­ment plans over the past decade, some of which have prompted com­plaints Bei­jing im­prop­erly sub­si­dizes its tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ers and shields them from com­pe­ti­tion in vi­o­la­tion of its free­trade com­mit­ments.

Al­ready, Chi­nese com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Ten­cent Ltd., Baidu Inc. and Alibaba Group are spend­ing heav­ily to de­velop ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence for con­sumer fi­nance, e-com­merce, self­driv­ing cars and other ap­pli­ca­tions. Man­u­fac­tur­ers also are in­stalling robots and other au­to­ma­tion to cope with ris­ing la­bor costs and im­prove ef­fi­ciency.

Thurs­day’s state­ment gives no de­tails of fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments or le­gal changes. But pre­vi­ous ini­tia­tives to de­velop Chi­nese ca­pa­bil­i­ties in so­lar power and other tech­nolo­gies have in­cluded re­search grants and reg­u­la­tions to en­cour­age sales and ex­ports.

“By 2030, our coun­try will reach a world lead­ing level in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence the­ory, tech­nol­ogy and ap­pli­ca­tion and be­come a prin­ci­pal world cen­ter for ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence in­no­va­tion,” the state­ment said. That will help to make China “in the fore­front of in­no­va­tive coun­tries and an eco­nomic power,” it said.

The an­nounce­ment fol­lows a sweep­ing plan is­sued in 2015, dubbed “Made in China 2025,” that calls for this coun­try to sup­ply its own high­tech com­po­nents and ma­te­ri­als in 10 in­dus­tries from in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and aerospace to phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

That prompted com­plaints Bei­jing might block ac­cess to promis­ing in­dus­tries to sup­port its fledg­ling sup­pli­ers. The Chi­nese in­dus­try min­is­ter de­fended the plan in March, say­ing all com­peti­tors would be treated equally. He re­jected com­plaints that for­eign com­pa­nies might be re­quired to hand over tech­nol­ogy in ex­change for mar­ket ac­cess.

China has had mixed suc­cess with pre­vi­ous strate­gic plans to de­velop tech­nol­ogy in­dus­tries in­clud­ing re­new­able en­ergy and elec­tric cars. Bei­jing an­nounced plans in 2009 to be­come a leader in elec­tric cars with an­nual sales of 5 mil­lion by 2020. With the help of gen­er­ous sub­si­dies, China passed the United States last year as the big­gest mar­ket, but sales to­taled just over 300,000.

—AP

BEI­JING: Chi­nese stu­dents work on the Ares, a hu­manoid bipedal robot de­signed by them with fund­ings from a Shang­hai in­vest­ment com­pany, dis­played dur­ing the World Robot Con­fer­ence in Bei­jing.

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