Artificial intelligence (AI) is coming into full bloom, with the potential to bring dramatic change to our interaction with technology and related internet, computing processing products and services.
While it is true that we are still a way from the day where AI will take over not only our smartphones and other devices, and be our way of conducting business and social interaction, we still see a lot of funding in the deep learning concept.
All AI research indicators deliver the same conclusion: China is leading the world into a new era of AI applications and will surpass the US in both research and use. Two examples show that China is on the path of success.
Research is key, and the decision for Google to locate its Asian headquarters for AI deep mind learning work in Beijing says it all. That choice did not come only due to market positioning share projections by Google. The real reason lies in the unique skills and qualifications Chinese researchers have.
For example, if we want to measure who in the world is leading AI discoveries, we can turn to the annual ImageNet Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge. The results of last year’s competition are stunning. Out of the 27 teams that competed, about than half were Chinese-based research teams from universities or companies, and the top winners were from China.
It is true that the US is still leading in terms of AI development and patent rights, but the gap is closing fast. By 2016, China had already published more journal articles related to deep learning than the US.
Another strength of Chinese AI development compared with the US is the extraordinary data ecosystem, because any developments in AI algorithms rely on the data provided. China had 772 million internet users as of the end of 2017, of whom 97.5 percent were also smartphone users. This population provides China’s technology companies with an extraordinary amount of data to try in their algorithms and perfect their AI systems.
From research to application. China’s ingenuity in AI research was on full show when the smartphone Huawei Mate 10 Pro displayed its ability on February 28 to drive a Porsche using a dedicated neural processing unit (NPU).
Huawei said that it showed the NPU’s ability to interpret image data, match it to known objects and train itself to identify objects that aren’t already in its recognition model.
The Huawei demonstration showed how capable China is when it comes to major AI breakthroughs. There are two reasons for this situation.
One is the ability to dominate the smartphone market’s AI integration. As first movers, US companies such as Apple will lose some of the global market and can only play catch-up.
Two is the ability of China to move fast from research and development to the mass commercialization of AI products. This trend is being reflected more and more in the past two years. The speed by which facial recognition and online payment powered devices have taken the lead is breathtaking.
In conclusion, the US is still on the top of the list for AI development. However, China is leading when it comes to the US dollar value of AI start-ups and research funding, which accounted for 48 percent of the world total in 2017 according to technology analysts CB Insights, due to the Chinese government’s AI push. By comparison, the US share was 38 percent.