With China having the world's largest number of Internet users, tech companies here are becoming more and more renowned for commercializing technologies related to artificial intelligence (AI).
This approach is also attracting talents abroad coming back to China hoping to seize their moments.
Song Yan is an artificial intelligence specialist. Three months ago, he decided to quit his job at Microsoft in Seattle, the United States, to come back to China.
“I can feel the AI fever in China. There are more opportunities, various AI applications. Lots of things are going on here,” Song said.
Autonomous driving is among the many things Song Yan refers to. For ride-hailing apps and car-rental companies, driverless cars could be the way forwards.
Liu Yaxiao, the CEO of China Auto Rental which is China’s largest car rental company, told CGTN that his company expects autonomous driving to replace the current taxi and ride-hailing services, because “a smart driverless car would never break traffic laws, so they would be safer and more efficient than human drivers”.
As to security issues, China’s automakers are working on building a safety standard to ease people’s concerns.
He Wen, Deputy Director of Chang'an Auto Research Center said: “Now every company has different standards and regulations, and that could be chaotic. We hope to build a unified standard for developing driverless cars.”
AI is triggering a lot of imaginations in China, but Forrest Yao, the Vice President of Tencent admitted that the technology is still in its primitive stage.
“No one knew the prowess of the steam engine before James Watt invented it,” Yao added. “ We believe AI is the prime power of the third industrial revolution. We’re now accumulating the power, waiting for the big bang.”
Tencent, China’s largest social platform and gaming company, is developing a project called Jueyi, similar to Google’s Alpha Go. The company is also trying to incorporate AI into gaming, in which the characters would ultimately think, behave and make real-time decisions like professional electronic game players.
In China’s Silicon Valley, Shenzhen, AI has demonstrated its potential through the building of a smart city.
A system that can show all the information from the government and some authorities like the police, tax, and healthcare services is already in place. Users can receive real-time traffic information, hospital registrations, and other details.
Apart from all the exciting AI applications now happening in China, Song Yan said what’s more important is that Chinese firms were getting less pragmatic in their outlook. “The good thing is that Chinese companies are getting more and more patient, and letting researchers do their fundamental research.”
Song said everything about AI is evolving at a stunning pace, and he believes China is very likely to deliver on its promise and become a global leader in artifical intelligence by 2030.