China is Leading the AI Technology Race

Artificial intelligence technology

China is Leading the AI Technology Race

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. Specific applications of AI include expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition, and machine vision. As the hype around AI has accelerated, vendors have been scrambling to promote how their products and services use AI. Often what they refer to as AI is simply one component of AI, such as machine learning. AI requires a foundation of specialized hardware and software for writing and training machine learning algorithms. In general, AI systems work by ingesting large amounts of labeled training data, analyzing the data for correlations and patterns, and using these patterns to make predictions about future states. In this way, a chatbot that is fed examples of text chats can learn to produce lifelike exchanges with people, or an image recognition tool can learn to identify and describe objects in images by reviewing millions of examples. AI programming focuses on three cognitive skills: learning, reasoning, and self-correction.

China Plans to lead The Artificial Intelligence Race

China is Leading the AI Technology Race

When China announced its “Made in China2025” plan to become the leading economic superpower in 2015 the world was looking at ambitious goals. China wants to make sure that for their 100th anniversary in 2049, they are leading in their 10 core industry areas whereas one area over-spans all of these industries – algorithms and what we call in marketing terms: Artificial Intelligence (AI). Some years later we have already experienced a big rush towards their goal to achieve supremacy. In an area where there is a big run for being a leader, it is about intelligent algorithms, industry applications of algorithms, and even other efforts to use data and their insights for better efficiency, new research, and even better integration. In recent news, it was more and more about Europe and the U.S. losing ground to China when it comes to AI development and investment. Even top executives and politicians are weighing in on this topic as this is a topic like the space race in the 60s. Everyone wants to be the first one to use these algorithms to gain an edge on economic development, material discovery, and more. Due to the many reasons that AI could potentially achieve, it is for a lot of regions, countries, and even research centers the biggest priority to be at the forefront when it comes to finding and developing these algorithms but also applying them. In recent years China was also a big playground for their tech industry with easy access to the market and low entry barriers – All under the premise of “winning at all costs”. Even in recent years, the Chinese government needed to also take care of the data protection of their citizens (like the new personal data protection laws). But one thing will not change so fast with China, the public perception of technology and the strong support for new technologies. Payments are already almost 100% digital nowadays, there are no areas where digital offerings are not already implemented. Also due to the rise of platforms like WeChat which integrate everything. Just imagine one single provider that is like Facebook, but it would also acquire Visa, and Mastercard, and offer services from Uber, Amazon, Instagram, and many more. When you take such a broad userbase, high integration, and also fast adoption of new technologies, you have everything you need to build a strong ecosystem that can leverage algorithms in many ways. Many critics also see potential downsides as these algorithms interfere with personal space, make surveillance easier, and might even manipulate society.

China’s AI market is now estimated to be worth around $3.5 billion, and Beijing has set a goal by 2030 of a one trillion yuanAI market ($142 billion). The government has pledged the equivalent of $2.1 billion to build an AI industrial park outside Beijing, among other major investments. Leading the effort is Huawei, which has established AI research laboratories in London and Singapore, unveiled a new generation of “AI processor” chips and laid out an “all scenario” AI strategy. Much of China’s spending is directed towards facial and voice recognition technologies like those of Megvii and SenseTime, along with natural language processing. The focus on these particular technologies is purpose-driven: Beijing is using its country’s facility in applied mathematics and AI, whether honed in America or at home, to create a digital surveillance state that is unrivaled in history. For example, a new law requires all individuals registering new mobile phone numbers to have a facial scan. The world’s most advanced algorithms are being used to aid in monitoring and controlling Chinese society and bolster the country’s security services.

Recent years have shown that China is determined to become a leading innovator in all different fields of Artificial Intelligence. Their efforts have also involved massive investments, and large commitments by companies but also the Communist Party, and these efforts are now paying off. This commitment together with a very adaptive and tech-loving society leads to fast adoptions across different fields. World politics is still worrying about other implications like AI warfare and the cyber risks associated with AI supremacy but it will be interesting to see how especially the U.S. will react and which way the European Union will go in the future.

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