China’s Artificial Intelligence Revolution
According to a report by Goldman Sachs, artificial intelligence (AI) development will take top priority on the Chinese government’s agenda. In July, China’s State Council announced their goal for China to become a global innovation center for AI technologies by 2030. Armed with ambition and resources, the country has emerged a major contender in the ‘AI arms race.'
Successful AI depends on large amounts of data. By inputting extensive data into the system, engineers can greatly accelerate the learning curve of AI technologies. China currently generates 13% of global digital information and that number is expected to reach 25% by 2020 as the economy expands.
Internet companies with substantial datasets such as Baidu and Alibaba are using open source learning platforms to attract foreign talent. In return, they gain government investment to pursue research and development on machine learning, human-computer interfaces, computer vision, and intelligent driving technologies.
Baidu’s Executive VP Qi Li advocated AI’s capability to promote China’s national strength and global position, reinforcing the nation’s rhetoric. Most Chinese mega-cities have already set up institutions to train engineers and create pools to share data. Tianjin, a city near Beijing, has planned for $5 billion to be invested in AI-related startups.
In the meantime, AI is pervading Chinese daily life. A good example is the voice recognition software, iFlytek Input, which translates Chinese verbal messages into English text messages. The technology is widely utilized; over 500 million people communicate through the application every day, and the company is valued at $12 billion.
AI has the potential to disrupt the job market, economy, and even the global order. As daunting as that may sound, the MIT Tech Review emphasizes that Western countries should not fear China’s artificial intelligence revolution. Rather, they should emulate it.