China is now a leading global hub for AI development. Startups and major tech companies like Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and DiDi Chuxing are developing cutting edge products, solutions, and services using artificial intelligence.
The AI market in China is massive. China’s AI Development Report 2018, a study from Tsinghua University, says, “The market value of China’s AI industry reached 23.7 billion yuan (about USD $3.5 billion) in 2017, with the growth rate expected to reach 75 per cent in 2018.”
In 2018, 60% of total global AI investments poured into China. The funding originates from global venture capital firms and private equity, tech giants developing their own AI tools, and the Chinese government.
Looking ahead, China plans for AI to be worth 1 trillion yuan (US $146 billion) to the country by 2030. These are the latest figures from a recent World Economic Forum report. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, AI will give the Chinese economy a productivity boost that will add 0.8 to 1.4 percentage points to annual GDP growth in the short term.
Organizations across multiple sectors in China use AI tools to detect patterns, make inferences from huge data sets, and uncover new efficiencies. The country’s education system also teaches AI courses in schools to ready the next generation for this game-changing technology.
Here’s a further look at who’s leading AI innovation in China, and which enterprises are building the most cutting-edge solutions.
Local innovation with global collaboration
Some Chinese firms collaborate today with international groups on AI best practices. In October 2018, search engine firm Baidu announced a partnership working with Apple, Amazon, and Google. This global consortium will work to form best practices for AI, and study its impact on society with a focus on safety, fairness, and transparency.
Baidu has developed three major AI products: Apollo, China’s largest open-source autonomous driving platform, DuerOS, a voice enabled digital assistant, and Baidu ABC, a smart cloud for businesses.
A range of notable AI leaders in China
Several emerging companies have built a reputation for leading AI innovation in China. To highlight a few: DJI is the world leader of the global drone market, with a greater than 70% share. Strong in image recognition, it recently partnered with US firm Microsoft. This will allow for real-time data streaming and analysis of events such as power line faults.
Based in Shenzhen, Ubtech Robotics started out making AI-enhanced humanoid robots for consumers. The business has a reputation for skillful motion-control algorithms and computer vision. Ubtech now offers customer-service droids for enterprises, local government offices, and schools. Founded two years ago, Cambricon makes high-performance semiconductors and AI chips optimized for deep learning capabilities. Cambricon hopes to see its chips in 1 billion smart devices worldwide by 2021.
How are Chinese companies using AI?
A range of industries in China use AI applications to realize breakthrough efficiencies. Like their counterparts in other parts of the world, China’s banks use AI to help detect fraud and assist customers with wealth management. Robo-advisory bots help clients with algorithm-driven, automated financial planning. McKinsey expects this market in China to be the world’s largest by 2020.
Dermatology practices in China are using AI analysis software to identify 90% of the most common diseases among patients. In the retail sector, traditional players use recommendation engines and predictive tools. While online leader Alibaba saw US$25.3 billion of sales in a single day in 2017. It attributed this to AI, machine learning, and cloud computing, as reported in the SCMP.
AI in the education system
Technological innovation is culturally important to China. This is evident in its education system, where primary and secondary schools teach AI courses in classrooms and technology companies like Squirrel.AI are building personalized learning platforms with AI.
Educators believe having advanced technical knowledge will increase confidence for both businesses and citizens. For example, 68% of people in China believe schools provide the technical skills they need to succeed in the future. In particular, managing the impact that artificial intelligence will have on work and life. By comparison, the global average is 41%, according to the latest research from Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN).
As a leading global center for AI innovation, China will remain an exciting market for the foreseeable future. AI investment and solution deployment show no sign of slowing down. Global collaboration will continue to drive breakthrough outcomes for consumers and businesses around the world.
Appen works with a range of organizations in China. We help them improve their AI and machine learning solutions by providing high-quality, human-annotated training data. To learn more, visit appen.com.cn.
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