Da­mon Kit­ney

The Deal asked six lead­ers in Chi­nese hi-tech what’s round the cor­ner

The Australian - The Deal - - News -

Sees the fu­ture

Jayne Le­ung

Face­book’s head of Greater China, for­merly at the Cal­i­for­nia-based Ru­bi­con Pro­ject “AI for Face­book is some­thing we would in­vest in for the next 10 years be­cause we think that is the fu­ture.” Le­ung notes the com­pany has just re­leased an app for blind peo­ple al­low­ing them to see pho­tos on Face­book with the help of AI. “That is a whole new ex­pe­ri­ence to peo­ple and in the fu­ture you can imag­ine there will be many more in­no­va­tions based on AI that will im­prove peo­ple’s lives,” she says. Face­book has also de­vel­oped its own mes­sen­ger bot which could open up all sorts of new ad­ver­tis­ing and e-com­merce op­por­tu­ni­ties. “You can go on to Mes­sen­ger, or­der your flow­ers, and it will au­to­mat­i­cally through ma­chine learn­ing re­spond to your re­quest, book the flow­ers, send it to the ad­dress. It all hap­pens through AI, ma­chine learn­ing. We think this ap­pli­ca­tion has a lot of legs. In the fu­ture it could be help­ing you to plan, help­ing you to shop, help­ing you to learn and so on. That is why we are very ex­cited about where this is go­ing.’’

KK Wong

Co-founder at Xiaomi, the firm that has be­come a house­hold name in China in less than six years by sell­ing low-priced, full-fea­tured smart­phones. Asked about pre­dic­tions at the sum­mit that the smart­phone would be gone in a decade, re­placed by wearable vir­tual re­al­ity de­vices such as the Ocu­lus Rift, Google glass or Mi­crosoft’s HoloLens, he says: “I don’t think so. I think the smart­phone will evolve in a bet­ter and more pow­er­ful form. It will al­ways ex­ist as a mo­bile com­puter. It is re­ally just a com­puter in its most nat­u­ral form. “In the fu­ture if there is glass or a wearable to solve a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem, they will be suc­cess­ful. But they will not re­place the mo­bile de­vice. It doesn’t re­place our use of com­put­ers. It might take away some of the fea­tures.”

Wong says he is a big fan of AI and ma­chine learn­ing but noted the whole point of de­vel­op­ing AI was “to en­hance the user be­hav­iour of hu­man be­ings”.

“[It should be] de­signed in a way to en­hance our ca­pa­bil­ity, not to re­place what we do. For ex­am­ple, we will still use the car, we just won’t need to drive any­where any more. The car can drive it­self. But the hu­man is al­ways the cen­tre­piece of the prod­uct – the car is mov­ing the hu­man from one place to an­other.

“Having AI glass is not to re­place our think­ing, it is meant to help us to make bet­ter de­ci­sions. For ex­am­ple, when I see a friend I haven’t seen for a year, the glass can tell me his name and show me his most re­cent Face­book post so I am up to date with him. It is de­signed to make hu­man be­ings smarter in mak­ing de­ci­sions.’’

Harry Shum

The Hong Kong Univer­sity-ed­u­cated ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent at Mi­crosoft “We are in the early days of this new tech­nol­ogy we call ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence,’’ he says, not­ing AI is at an “in­flec­tion point’’ where it would start to be­come part of our daily lives. “We are mov­ing from a world where we need to un­der­stand com­put­ers to a new world where com­put­ers un­der­stand us. Un­til to­day we learned the com­puter lan­guage. From now on we want com­put­ers to learn hu­man lan­guages. A world where ma­chines can be proac­tive, un­der­stand our in­tent. Com­put­ers can see, lis­ten, talk, ac­tu­ally have the abil­ity to un­der­stand con­ver­sa­tions just like we hu­mans do and they can tap into rich sources of knowl­edge and data to help us. In this new wave, data is the new cur­rency, ma­chine learn­ing is the new magic.’’

He says chat­bots are the next fron­tier in smart­phone soft­ware; they are al­ready be­ing used to book doc­tors’ ap­point­ments and buy cer­tain prod­ucts such as clothes. “With the help of AI, con­ver­sa­tions should be the new plat­form ... I think in 10 years we will see bots ev­ery­where – in­clud­ing con­ver­sa­tional bots to en­gage with busi­ness cus­tomers.’’

Joe Soe

Chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer, mar­ket­ing and in­dus­trial so­lu­tions, Huawei En­ter­prise Busi­ness Group, who is lead­ing the global roll­out of the Chi­nese telco gi­ant’s smart city tech­nol­ogy Asked about the dis­ap­pear­ance of the mo­bile de­vice in a decade, he replies: “In 10 years I think the mo­bile phone will be re­placed by wear­ables. Wear­ables will take over a lot of phone fea­tures and func­tions. “To­day wear­ables are too ex­pen­sive. But as we go along in the fu­ture, for tele­phone com­pa­nies like Sam­sung, LG and Huawei, I think it will be more like glasses that you wear.”

Her­bert Chia

Ven­ture part­ner of Se­quoia Cap­i­tal China, a ven­ture cap­i­tal firm spe­cial­is­ing in tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ments founded by one of China’s rich­est men “[In five years] ro­bots will be the next toys for ev­ery­one. The best com­pan­ion for peo­ple. “The ro­bot that I am talk­ing about is not a ro­bot with an arm or a leg like in the movies. It is a vir­tual ro­bot who can write email and re­turn email for you. [Call it] ei­ther a ro­bot hu­man or a hu­man ro­bot.’’

Si­mon Zhang

CEO and founder of Chi­nese data science group Grow­ingIO, who for­merly led re­cruit­ment gi­ant LinkedIn’s busi­ness an­a­lyt­ics team in Sil­i­con Val­ley Asked in a ses­sion about the evo­lu­tion of the data-driven econ­omy, he says the cloud will be­come fun­da­men­tal to mak­ing mo­bile an­a­lyt­ics avail­able for all busi­nesses to use: “There is huge de­mand from every com­pany for that tech­nol­ogy. They need a so­lu­tion. They need a team. But to build a 500-en­gi­neer team like Face­book or Twit­ter is al­most im­pos­si­ble. “So we need to use tech­nol­ogy to an­a­lyse a huge amount of con­sumer data to de­scribe what is hap­pen­ing in the past, to mon­i­tor what is hap­pen­ing now and to pre­dict what will hap­pen in the fu­ture. Big data in­no­va­tion has em­pow­ered us to use the tools and tech­nol­ogy ... [For small busi­ness] to com­pete with the larger play­ers and have a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage, I would say how you adopt a cloud so­lu­tion is the key to be­ing suc­cess­ful in the fu­ture.’’

Da­mon Kit­ney trav­elled cour­tesy of the Hong Kong Eco­nomic and Trade Of­fice to the In­ter­net Econ­omy Sum­mit, part of the city’s an­nual In­ter­na­tional IT Fest, where these in­ter­views were con­ducted.

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