Min­is­ter: Plan to boost AI re­search

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Two Sessions - ZHU XINGXIN / CHINA DAILY

China will strengthen the use of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to solve se­cu­rity, health, en­vi­ron­ment and other key pub­lic is­sues, Wan Gang, min­is­ter of science and tech­nol­ogy, said on Satur­day.

The coun­try also plans to soon pub­lish a guide­line and de­tailed reg­u­la­tions on AI de­vel­op­ment and break­throughs in crit­i­cal tech­nolo­gies, he said.

Since the 1980s, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment has con­sid­ered AI re­search highly sig­nif­i­cant and made it a part of the na­tion’s science agenda, Wan said.

AI ap­pli­ca­tions are now used in many in­dus­tries and in daily lives, rang­ing from bike-shar­ing tech­nolo­gies to pack­age de­liv­er­ies, he said, adding that AI is also en­ter­ing hos­pi­tals, court­rooms, city plan­ning, pub­lic trans­porta­tion and many other pub­lic ser­vices.

The key to us­ing AI in var­i­ous fields is to con­duct re­search in core tech­nolo­gies and make AI open-sourced, so that in­no­va­tors, en­trepreneurs and oth­ers in all facets of so­ci­ety can add or ben­e­fit from the tech­nol­ogy, Wan said.

min­is­ter of science and tech­nol­ogy, an­swers ques­tions from jour­nal­ists at a news con­fer­ence on the side­lines of the on­go­ing ses­sion of the 13th Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress in Bei­jing on Satur­day.

In July, the State Coun­cil is­sued a plan on the next gen­er­a­tion of AI. It said the AI in­dus­try should be a ma­jor growth en­gine and im­prove peo­ple’s lives by 2020. The plan also set a tar­get for China to be­come a lead­ing cen­ter for global AI in­no­va­tion by 2030.

The value of the coun­try’s AI-re­lated in­dus­tries is ex­pected to reach more than 150 bil­lion yuan ($23.7 bil­lion) by 2020, 400 bil­lion yuan by 2025 and 1 trillion yuan by 2030, ac­cord­ing to goals laid out in the plan.

Wan said China will strengthen its AI re­search and train a new gen­er­a­tion of ex­perts to tackle key and fron­tier AI-re­lated science is­sues. The na­tion will also ac­cel­er­ate the com­mer­cial­iza­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion of AI tech­nolo­gies to “solve the pub­lic’s con­cerns, such as se­cu­rity, health and en­vi­ron­ment”, he said.

At the same time, he added, China will strengthen re­search into re­lated laws and reg­u­la­tions in re­sponse to pos­si­ble eth­i­cal and so­cial chal­lenges caused by AI tech­nolo­gies, such as pri­vacy, em­ploy­ment and na­tional se­cu­rity.

“AI is an in­ter­na­tional trend,” he said. “We need to strengthen in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion and sup­port China’s AI com­pa­nies and in­sti­tutes to work glob­ally with oth­ers and play roles in their key fields.”

The United States and China are the world’s top two AI re­searchers, ac­count­ing for more than 57 per­cent of the science papers recorded by the As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence last year, ac­cord­ing to a study by the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto.

In 2017, Chi­nese sci­en­tists wrote 23 per­cent of the papers re­lated to AI, more than twice the share of 10 per­cent in 2012. At the same time, the share of US papers fell from 41 per­cent in 2012 to 34 per­cent in 2017, the study said.

Liu Qingfeng, a deputy to the 13th Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress and pres­i­dent of Chi­nese voice recog­ni­tion de­vice man­u­fac­turer iF­lytek, said China’s AI tech­nolo­gies and in­no­va­tions are on par with those from de­vel­oped coun­tries.

“Given AI tech­nol­ogy’s data-driven na­ture, China’s mas­sive user base and the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to use new in­ven­tions, China will def­i­nitely win the fu­ture of AI,” Liu said on the side­lines of the on­go­ing NPC ses­sion.

FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

Zhoigar (left), head of vil­lage af­fairs and su­per­vi­sion for Yu­mai vil­lage, Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion, and Liu Lei, an el­e­men­tary school teacher from Tongjiang, Hei­longjiang prov­ince, who are both deputies of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress, talk to re­porters dur­ing a group in­ter­view on the side­lines of the on­go­ing NPC ses­sion on Sun­day.

Wan Gang,

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