Na­tion aims for core tech break­through

More ef­forts needed to cul­ti­vate firms fo­cus­ing on high-end sen­sors, chips

China Daily - - BUSINESS - By MA SI masi@chi­ Liu Yukun contributed to this story.

China will ramp up re­sources to de­velop core tech­nolo­gies such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence chips and sen­sors, as part of its broader push to in­te­grate AI into the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, the na­tion’s top in­dus­try reg­u­la­tor said on Thurs­day.

Zhang Feng, chief en­gi­neer of the Min­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, said China is now the world’s sec­ond-largest owner of in­ven­tion patents and in­ter­na­tional sci­en­tific pa­pers, with sig­nif­i­cant progress made in voice and im­age recog­ni­tion, as well as nat­u­ral lan­guage un­der­stand­ing.

“In future, more ef­forts will be made to pur­sue break­throughs in cru­cial tech­nolo­gies that are key to the en­tire in­dus­try and can serve as a strong mo­ti­va­tion. We will fo­cus on AI chips, sen­sors and core al­go­rithms,” Zhang said at a con­fer­ence in Bei­jing to cel­e­brate the World Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Day, which fell on Thurs­day.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the coun­try will also strengthen re­search and de­vel­op­ment on cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy such as cog­ni­tive com­put­ing and machine learn­ing.

The min­istry un­veiled a three-year plan in De­cem­ber to boost the ap­pli­ca­tion of AI in the au­to­mo­bile, ro­bot­ics, health­care and other sec­tors, in its lat­est push to up­grade the coun­try’s real econ­omy.

On top of aim­ing to build a glob­ally com­pet­i­tive smart in­ter­net-con­nected car in­dus­try by 2020, the coun­try also wants to ac­cel­er­ate the use of AI-en­abled sys­tems to as­sist doc­tors in med­i­cal cases, and ser­vices ro­bots that can help se­nior cit­i­zens and chil­dren.

But to achieve th­ese goals, more ef­forts are needed to cul­ti­vate home­grown com­pa­nies that spe­cial­ize in high-end sen­sors and AI chips. Plat­forms that in­te­grate soft­ware and hard­ware are also needed to power self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles and other ap­pli­ca­tions, said Wang Weim­ing, deputy di­rec­tor of the sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy depart­ment of the min­istry.

Last year, China out­lined its plan to build a 150 bil­lion yuan ($23.6 bil­lion) AI core in­dus­try by 2020, which is sup­posed to stim­u­late as much as 1 tril­lion yuan in re­lated busi­ness.

In Novem­ber, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment said it would build four na­tional AI open in­no­va­tion plat­forms by re­ly­ing on Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd in smart city tech­nolo­gies, Baidu Inc in self-driv­ing tech­nolo­gies, Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd in AI-en­abled med­i­cal treat­ment, and iF­lytek Co Ltd in voice-recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy.

Li Zheng­mao, vice gen­eral man­ager of China Mo­bile, the na­tion’s largest mo­bile tele­com car­rier by sub­scribers, said the com­pany is build­ing a largescale in­ter­net of things net­work which will build a sound foun­da­tion for the era of AI.

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