China a pi­o­neer in AI in­no­va­tion

China Daily European Weekly - - BUSINESS - By MA SI masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ideas and tech­nolo­gies cre­ated in China will have a big­ger im­pact as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence in­creas­ingly re­shapes peo­ple’s work and lives, ac­cord­ing to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Pichai’s com­ments came a day af­ter Ap­ple Inc CEO Tim Cook an­nounced plans to part­ner with China’s Ts­inghua Univer­sity to cre­ate a joint re­search cen­ter for AI-re­lated tech­nolo­gies.

The recog­ni­tion from se­nior ex­ec­u­tives of two of the world’s most valu­able com­pa­nies high­lights the ef­forts be­ing made by China in its trans­for­ma­tion from an in­no­va­tion sponge to an in­no­va­tion pi­o­neer.

“When it comes to AI, we want to work along­side the world’s best tal­ents. That is why we opened an AI re­search cen­ter in Bei­jing last year,” Pichai said at the China De­vel­op­ment Fo­rum 2018 in Bei­jing on March 26.

“Open­ness will al­low us to scale the im­pact of AI. No one com­pany … will be able to do it alone. Ev­ery­one has a role to play,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Pichai, China has al­ready played a big part in pro­mot­ing the de­vel­op­ment of AI, and Chi­nese sci­en­tists have done a good job in re­search as they con­trib­ute to a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of pa­pers in sci­en­tific jour­nals.

The United States tech giant an­nounced in De­cem­ber that it would es­tab­lish a re­search cen­ter in Bei­jing, the first of its kind in Asia, to fo­cus on ba­sic AI re­search. Ac­cord­ing to Pichai, the cen­ter al­ready has a team of re­searchers.

Google has been step­ping up in­vest­ment in China, one of the world’s most dy­namic tech land­scapes. In Jan­uary, it opened a new of­fice in Shen­zhen, Guang­dong prov­ince, which func­tions as a ser­vice cen­ter to deepen its co­op­er­a­tion with Chi­nese hard­ware mak­ers.

Pichai’s praise for China’s tal­ent came a day af­ter Cook made sim­i­lar com­ments at the same fo­rum.

Cook said it was China’s huge man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity that lured him to bring Ap­ple’s busi­ness to the na­tion. But now Chi­nese prod­ucts are also known for their high qual­ity and the coun­try is play­ing a lead­ing role in in­no­va­tion, he said.

As the na­tion steps up ef­forts to im­ple­ment the Made in China 2025 strat­egy, the world is wit­ness­ing the re­search and de­vel­op­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties of lo­cal tal­ent and pro­fes­sion­als, Cook added.

He said the joint re­search cen­ter with Ts­inghua Univer­sity will “fo­cus on ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, in­clud­ing ma­chine learn­ing, com­puter vi­sion, aug­mented re­al­ity and wire­less tech­nolo­gies”.

Last year, China for the first time sur­passed the United States in eq­uity fund­ing to AI star­tups, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased by US-based ven­ture cap­i­tal data­base CB In­sights.

Star­tups world­wide raised more than $15.2 bil­lion in 2017, up by 141 per­cent from 2016. China’s AI star­tups ac­counted for 48 per­cent of the global fund­ing, up from 11.6 per­cent in 2016. The US was ranked sec­ond with 38 per­cent, the re­port added.

FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

Sundar Pichai (left) and Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook speak at the China De­vel­op­ment Fo­rum 2018 in Bei­jing.

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