|China and the US are battling to become the world’s first AI superpower|
by James Vincent@jjvincent
Aug 3, 2017, 10:30am EDT
Illustrations by James Bareham
In October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the Earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. The craft was no bigger than a beach ball, but it spurred the US into a frenzy of research and investment that would eventually put humans on the Moon. Sixty years later, the world might have had its second “Sputnik moment.” But this time, it’s not the US receiving the wake-up call, but China; and the goal is not the exploration of space, but the creation of artificial intelligence. The second Sputnik arrived in the form of AlphaGo, the AI system developed by Google-owned DeepMind. In 2016, AlphaGo beat South Korean master Lee Se-dol at the ancient Chinese board game Go, and in May this year, it toppled the Chinese world champion, Ke Jie. Two professors who consult with the Chinese government on AI policy told The New York Times that these games galvanized the country’s politicians to invest in the technology. And the report the pair helped shape — published last month — makes China’s ambitions in this area clear: the country says it will become the world’s leader in AI by 2030 for more, go to https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/3/16007736/china-us-ai-artificial-intelligence
China likely to be global AI leader in just a decade to go
https://youtu.be/leQCPJkhmEA (VIDEO: Doesn't she look gorgeous?
KUALA LUMPUR (October 2017): It is most interesting and significant to read THEWORLDPOST - a pro-US e-media - publishing an update on the global race for Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology perfection and domination.
The two news features titled “Inside China’s quest to become the global leader in AI” and “Weekend roundup: Whoever dominates AI will put their stamp on the social order” are, most surprisingly, giving China credit as a world leader-in-the making in AI technology development.
I Love Malaysia-China Silk Road reproduces the two news features below to alert One Belt One Road (OBOR) followers, especially investors looking for opportunities, to judge for themselves whether they have room to consider leveraging on OBOR facilities to forge joint-business ventures.
Here are the two reports:
Inside China’s quest to become the global leader in AI
By Edward Tse October 19, 2017
|China aims to be at the forefront of AI innovation in just over a decade. (Getty/WorldPost illustration)|
SHANGHAI — If all goes as planned, China hopes to be the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. If successful, Beijing’s “moonshot” initiative – recently unveiled by the government – has the potential to be a game-changer not just for Chinese society but for global geopolitics as well.
My bet is that China will indeed reach its goal over the next decade, in part because of how far it has already come. While so much of the world today lacks clear direction, China has an edge in its ability to combine strong, top-down government directive with vibrant grassroots-level innovation.
Beyond this, China has an abundance of data to train AI-learning algorithms because of its huge population of Internet users – more than 700 million. China’s thriving mobile Internet ecosystem also provides a test bed for AI researchers to collect and analyze valuable demographics and transactional and behavioral big data and to conduct large-scale experiments at a much higher level than foreign counterparts.
This combination places Beijing in a unique position to dominate AI in just over a decade. It would be imprudent to expect otherwise. To understand why, look no further than the country’s current technological advancements.
China is investing in AI at the local level
Today, a number of local governments in China are offering financial incentives to encourage AI-related innovations. With the government’s assistance, Guizhou, one of the poorest provinces in the country, has become known as China’s “big data hub.” Major Internet companies such as Apple, Alibaba, Tencent and Qualcomm have set up new big data centers in the province, in large part due to this initiative. And in 2016, government data reported a 10.5 percent growth in Guizhou’s gross domestic product, one of the highest GDP increases among China’s provinces and municipalities.
Another example is the municipality of Chongqing. It was one of the first municipalities in China to establish a bureau to support local AI development. In May, Chongqing partnered with Baidu, a local search engine, to foster AI and big data. Elsewhere in China, Xiong’an New Area, a newly established district near Beijing, and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, a city cluster, have also incorporated AI in their development plans as a key economic growth engine.
|Workers test the functions of a giant robot as they set up a robot exhibition in Hefei, Anhui province. Sept. 26, 2013. (Reuters)|
The Chinese government’s favorable policies have inspired innovations across a wide range of tech players in the country. Leading Internet giants such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, rising start-ups like iCarbonX and SenseTime, as well as “unicorns” – companies that have reached $1 billion valuation – like Didi Chuxing and Xiaomi are either adopting AI technology already in their operations or investing in it.
Baidu, for example, has shifted its company strategy from “mobile-first” to “AI-first.” Some of its initiatives include DuerOS, a conversational AI system that can be integrated into smart devices such as speakers, televisions and refrigerators; Project Apollo, an open source platform for the research and development of autonomous vehicles; and Baidu Brain, an AI platform with 60 different AI-enabled services. Its rival Tencent has also established its own AI lab, which developed the software that famously defeated high-ranking Japanese “Go” player Ryo Ichiriki earlier this year.
Additionally, Chinese health care start-up iCarbonX is building a digital “ecosystem” using AI technology to collect users’ biological and psychological data, provide personalized health analysis and predict users’ health status. And SenseTime, a Chinese AI start-up founded in 2014, focuses on innovative computer vision and deep learning technology. In July, SenseTime claimed it had raised the largest single round investment in AI globally at $410 million.
|Alpha1 Pro, a humanoid robot for entertainment and education, at the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, China. Oct. 16, 2017. (Venus Wu/Reuters)|
Another potential challenge is geopolitics. According to an unreleased Pentagon report cited by Reuters, the U.S. government views Chinese investments in American AI start-ups as a potential threat to national security. As a result, the U.S. wants to scrutinize cross-border investment in sensitive AI technologies. On top of that, the Trump administration has proposed a 10 percent cut to the National Science Foundation’s spending on “intelligent systems.” This could present potential opportunity for China, through strong government support and financial incentives, to attract U.S. talent to set up AI labs and conduct pilots in China.
China has some work to do before it successfully harnesses the potential of AI. But it has the resources and talent to reach its goal – and now it has the political will to make it a national priority. That combination will be hard to beat.
This was produced by The WorldPost, a partnership of the Berggruen Institute and The Washington Post.
Weekend roundup: Whoever dominates AI will put their stamp on the social order
By Nathan Gardels October 20
|Circuit board brain representing artificial intelligence. (Getty)|
The challenge is making smart policy choices that realize the promises of AI while containing the perils. Eliminating the drudgery of routine labor and enhancing energy efficiency in a warming climate are surely triumphs for humankind. The dissolution of privacy as individuals lose control over their personal information — not so much. This week, The WorldPost examines the impact of intelligent machines and considers who will win the race to dominate these new technologies.
Founding president of Google China Kai-Fu Lee dispels the rosy Silicon Valley notion that universal basic income, or UBI, is an optimal solution to the massive job displacement that the coming AI and robot revolution is expected to unleash.
According to Lee, who heads the AI institute at the venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, “Roughly half of all jobs will disappear in the next decade.” When robots and AI inevitably take over, he argues, we cannot naively assume a government stipend alone “will be a catalyst for people to reinvent themselves professionally.” In order to truly turn this technological revolution into “a creative renaissance,” he writes from Beijing, we will instead need to capitalize on the human touch and focus on people-to-people interaction, because ultimately “only humans can create and come up with new innovations. AI … cannot think outside the box, and it can only optimize problems defined by humans.” Societies will have to bend to the new realities not only with a basic guarantee of subsistence, he argues, but also with a new definition of the work ethic and a new valuation of social labor, such as elder care.
John Markoff actually worries that there won’t be enough humans to conduct elder care and thus sees the elderly as the next frontier for AI. “Globally, the number of people over 80 will double by the middle of the century — almost half a billion people will fall into the neediest care category — and that percentage will increase by sevenfold by the end of this century,” he writes. “The dependency ratio — that proportion of humans who require care compared to those who can give care — is also increasing inexorably.”
While Japan is leading the way in robots for elder care, Markoff notes, other aging nations, including China — a byproduct of decades of a now-abandoned one-child policy — as well as Europe and the U.S., lag behind and will inevitably have to follow suit. For now, he says, as roboticist Rodney Brooks has suggested, “self-driving cars will be the first elder-care robots,” enabling old people to maintain their mobility when acute awareness of their surroundings and reaction time diminishes. Sensors that can track when an elderly person needs medical assistance are not far behind, followed by what Markoff calls “machines of loving grace” that will offer companionship for the old and isolated.
As with all great transformations, there is a geopolitical dimension as well. Whoever dominates AI, especially its military and security applications, will put their stamp on the world order. America has long taken comfort in the delusion that it has a permanent advantage in leading technological innovation. But as Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, told me in a recent conversation, he expects China will surpass Silicon Valley in artificial intelligence advances in about a year. Edward Tse explains why.
“While so much of the world today lacks clear direction,” Tse writes from Shanghai, “China has an edge in its ability to combine strong, top-down government directive with vibrant grass-roots-level innovation. Beyond this, China has an abundance of data to train AI-learning algorithms because of its huge population of Internet users — more than 700 million. China’s thriving mobile Internet ecosystem also provides a test bed for AI researchers to collect and analyze valuable demographics and transactional and behavioral big data and to conduct large-scale experiments at a much higher level than foreign counterparts.”
Beware to the winner of the contest, however. Big data analysis through the prowess of intelligent machines introduces a host of threats — not least of which is the unsettling reality that where there is connectivity, there is also surveillance. The more we know or learn though connected networks, the more that is known and learned about us. The communication technologies we use today are invasive by design, collecting our photos, comments and friends in giant searchable databases. In the West, private companies intrude on privacy to monetize personal data. In China, the security state is well on its way to becoming an all-seeing Big Brother.
Technological change would not gain momentum if it was not in some way responsive to the demands of society. In the end, who defines those needs and desires will determine whether fulfilling them is good or bad for society as a whole. For now — unless or until they acquire “general intelligence” — robots and AI remain bound to the humans who design them.
This was produced by The WorldPost, a partnership of the Berggruen Institute and The Washington Post.
The future is here: China sounds a clarion call on AI funding, policies to surpass US
Artificial intelligence has made its way on to the agenda of the government’s annual political show in Beijing, urged on by the country’s business and technology elites
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 9:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 9:53am
China’s government is preparing for a war of sorts with the United States to claim the vantage point to define the technological trend for the next generation.
At the annual meeting of China’s parliament this week, the usual Communist Party agenda of economic growth, social welfare, jobs, health care and pension made way for an unusual addition: a clarion call by some of China’s most influential business and technology leaders for the government to set policies to define what they consider the Next Big Thing.
They include the founder of the largest Chinese internet search engine Baidu, the owner of smartphone maker Xiaomi, and the founder of Geely Automobile, which bought Volvo.
They are tabling motions and proposals for the government to take the lead in getting Chinese enterprises to collaborate on artificial intelligence (AI) research, and facilitate the industrialising of the technology … for more, go to http://www.scmp.com/tech/article/2077845/future-here-china-sounds-clarion-call-ai-funding-policies-surpass-us