Where will China's AI industry head?
Updated 20:25, 09-Aug-2019
Gai Keke

Editor's note: Gai Keke is an associate professor at the School of Computer Science and Technology in the Beijing Institute of Technology, China. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a buzzword across various industries. We observe that numerous parties have jumped into the pool and try to grab a slice of cake. When we look at participants in the field of AI, it is easy to see that the current AI industry is multidisciplinary and multi-industrial.

This feature introduces the theme of connectivity. The term has at least two meanings. The first is that AI provides a platform or a tool for connecting systems, applications or infrastructure. Sharing AI technology across various fields is important. The other meaning addresses industry implementations, which describes connections enabled by AI for networking various industries. This can be deemed as an approach of the industrial internet, and the core functionality is the connected applications. Whether it is connecting platforms or connecting applications, the primary objective is to strengthen the interaction and interconnection between systems within the digital ecosystem in a smart way.

In some situations, the connectivity theme above is called an AI Cross-border Application (AICA). We observe that developing AICA has become mainstream in China's AI industry.

The development trend has received support from the Chinese government, although the effort is still at an early stage. A variety of beneficial policies have been enacted for reinforcing the expansion and exploration in the field of AICA, like the military-civilian integration and military-medical integration projects. Advanced AI technologies are encouraged for use in various areas, like the latest pattern recognition technologies that not only apply to the medical assistant system, but also used in traffic surveillance systems.

AI allows for interconnected innovation across various fields. /VCG Photo

AI allows for interconnected innovation across various fields. /VCG Photo

Besides support from the Chinese government, more effort can be made in the following areas.

First, research institutes should pay more attention to the frontier AI techniques in cross-border application. Implementing AI techniques might be an alternative for dealing with those unsolved theoretical and engineering problems. We observe that a joint cooperation often brings research and innovative outputs. For instance, an AI-based chip technique is deemed to be the next generation chip. AI algorithms are embedded into the chip in order to achieve higher computation speed and lower resource cost.

Second, professional or academic associations should play a crucial role in gathering practitioners and scholars to engage the growth of AICA. For example, the Alliance of Emerging Engineering Education for Information Technologies, authorized by MIIT of China, is an organization that serves both corporations and universities in assisting business initializations and cross-border project collaboration. Connections can be found through the platform established by this association.

Finally, high-tech companies should strengthen R&D departments and attempt to collaborate with partners from various industries. A common collaboration is to explore whether an AI technique can be migrated to a specific application. In fact, many blue ocean markets were found in this way. A good example is that a few recent studies tried to use AI techniques in patrol drones. Irrelevant images or videos will be removed during the flight and only useful data are stored. AI algorithms determine which data shall be stored.

In summary, we observe that applications enabled by cross-border AI has been emphasized by the Chinese government with many active participants. Many attempts have been made to examine and evaluate the adoption of AICA in different areas or through different combinations. More participation is called for in conducting a higher-level functionality of AICA ecosystem.

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