Sci-tech minister: China promotes AI for socio-economic development
Updated 21:14, 05-Mar-2023

China will further promote sci-tech innovations and the artificial intelligence (AI) industry to contribute to economic and social development, said Wang Zhigang, the country's Minister of Science and Technology, on Sunday.

Wang made the remarks in the "Ministers' Corridor" on the sidelines of this year's Two Sessions, the country's annual political season.

China doubled its spending on basic research over the past five years, Premier Li Keqiang said while delivering a government work report to the opening meeting of the first session of the 14th National People's Congress in Beijing on Sunday.

Over the past five years, the country has fully implemented the innovation-driven development strategy and improved and upgraded the industrial structure.

China has also carried out sound deployment for future development of the AI industry, said Wang, adding that research and development (R&D) in AI has been undertaken for many years with some achievements.

Moreover, the country has proposed several scenarios for the application of AI. Through technological traction and scenario-driven methods, AI will be promoted to contribute to economic and social development, Wang added.

Future AI plans 

Generally speaking, AI is a general direction and a large field which not only affects the sci-tech field, but may also influence many other important fields related to economic and social development.

China has proposed "eight principles" of AI governance. In terms of AI transformation and application, the country has recently launched several scenarios demonstrations such as "smart docks" to promote AI applications.

Wang mentioned that, in the future, we expect Chinese and foreign companies to have more outcomes in the AI field, and we will keep an eye on the standard of sci-tech ethics. 

Through scientific research and technological traction as well as scenario-driven methods, we hope AI will not only boost China's technological, economic and social development, but also contribute to the development of the international community, Wang added. 

Hot tech of ChatGPT 

Regarding ChatGPT, which has been a hot topic at home and abroad lately, Wang described it as a large model which effectively combines big data, large computing power, and strong algorithms.

In fact, from the source of technology itself, it is called NLP and NLU as natural language processing and natural language understanding, said Wang, adding that the two aspects have been studied for many years.

ChatGPT's calculation methods have been improved. With the same principle, some are better than the others. Taking the engine as an example, everyone can make engines, but the quality is different. Playing football is all about dribbling and shooting, but it is not easy to be as good as Messi.

From this point of view, ChatGPT made technological progress, especially in ensuring the real-time performance of the algorithm and the effectiveness of the algorithm quality.

We can understand people's natural language and conduct dialogues through computing, but it is not easy to achieve real-time effects, in which OpenAI takes advantages, said Wang. 

China has made a lot of plans in this area and research has been carried out for many years with some achievements. However, for now, we may still need some time to catch up with OpenAI.

Promote fundamental scientific studies

Wang also mentioned that China's basic research has accounted for more than 6 percent of the total social R&D investment for four consecutive years. Its growth has outpaced that of China's national R&D investment.

Furthermore, China has accelerated construction of national laboratories, national key laboratories, mathematics research centers, and strengthened the building of basic research bases and platforms.

In addition, the country released a ten-year plan for basic research and carried out a series of reforms in terms of innovation environment construction and talent evaluation.

Encourage enterprises for sci-tech innovations

The Ministry of Science and Technology has also been actively encouraging enterprises to undertake sci-tech innovation, said Wang.

By setting up national key laboratories and technological innovation centers in enterprises, China has given full play to enterprises for scientific research projects.

In the next step, the ministry will further increase support for enterprises in this filed.

No matter whether they are state-owned or private, large-, medium-, small-, or micro-sized enterprises, the ministry will fully support engagement in sci-tech innovation activities to improve the quality and competitiveness of their development.

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