Date: 10/24/2019 – Author: Thomas Bott
Reading time: 4 minutes

Artificial Intelligence gaining ground in China

Just a few decades ago, artificial intelligence (AI) was still a hope for the future. Technological progress, however, has made it possible today. In some cases, it’s even used in consumer products. A particularly well-known example are language assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Siri from Apple, and Google Assistant. But of course they’re not really intelligent yet, rather they analyze the language of the users and then carry out simple tasks. Nevertheless, they’re so embedded in our everyday routines that it’s hard to imagine life without them, making their further development crucial for companies.

(© 2019 Getty Images)

In the coming decades, AI is expected to revolutionize transportation, including autonomous driving. Eventually, vehicles will rely solely on AI to decide how to react in certain traffic situations. While some driver assistance systems already rely on AI, even more will in the future.

In the coming decades, AI is expected to revolutionize transportation, including autonomous driving. Eventually, vehicles will rely solely on AI to decide how to react in certain traffic situations. While some driver assistance systems already rely on AI, even more will in the future.

(© 2019 Getty Images)

China is planning its way to becoming a global leader in AI

It’s difficult to measure how far countries have progressed with such innovations as artificial intelligence. Therefore, the number of studies published on a particular topic has served as an indicator to date. By these indications, China overtook its biggest competitor, the United States, in 2006. However, this doesn’t say anything about quality, which is why researchers are now counting the number of citations in other publications as a new indication of progress. The more often other researchers use references from a paper, the higher its quality should be appraised. In this respect China has lagged far behind the USA.

Gradually, change seems to be afoot. The number of citations from Chinese studies has continued to rise, and, in 2018, the two countries were neck and neck in terms of indicative progress. China is expected to overtake the USA in 2019, eliminating any reservations in China’s abilities to surpass the West in terms of AI. This all proves to be an important step for the Chinese government’s ambitious plans for the future.

In 2017, it was predicted that China would be at the forefront of AI development by 2030. If proven to be true, the country aims to set the course for the technology and in turn, secure an economically advantageous position in the world.

 

From imitator to originator

China has a reputation in the world for copying technology and products from the West and selling them cheaper. Gradually, people are dismissing these thoughts, as China itself has proven to be an innovator in its own right. Many materials and key manufacturing production processes originated in China. In the future, however, the country wants to progress much further ahead. Huawei is already proof of this desired progress. Today, the Shenzhen-based company ranks third behind Samsung and Apple in the world for smartphones.

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More importantly, Huawei is an important international company when it comes to the distribution of 5G, and their technology is advanced in comparison to competitors. However, the West is wary about the company, primarily in regards to data protection, and AI already implemented in their smartphone devices. Alongside the concerns there remains an interest in the company’s technology, and increasingly similar tech is appearing in Western devices as well.

 

AI already a part of daily life in China

Not only consumer products are using artificial intelligence. It’s also being used in public systems. Surveillance systems, for example, are using intelligent facial recognition technology with intentions of improving security within the country. But these systems are also helping in AI research as the system is continually learning and getting smarter with the use of countless data — leading to more accurate recognition systems which can be used in consumer products in the future.

(© 2019 Getty Images)

AI is also playing a role in the healthcare sector. Data on patients, illnesses, and therapies ensure constant machine learning. In the future, this could help with diagnoses or recommend possible treatments. Furthermore, AI can be used in hospitals to help alleviate and support in routine tasks.

 

Attractive place for experts

When it comes to such advanced technologies, development is heavily dependent on experts. However, there are not many of them worldwide and even fewer among the top developers. This is why there is a global headhunting battle to get these experts. So far, the USA has attracted specialists from all over the world, including China, with attractive conditions, reputable research institutions, and regions such as Silicon Valley. However, the intensification of political relations between the USA and other nations is likely to affect where experts head.

China, however, expects its own experts to increasingly stay in their home country or return. China’s large market and seemingly openness to new technologies are attracting even large Western companies to settle in China. These circumstances should significantly strengthen the country’s planned leadership in AI.