A man playing with a robot during the World Economic Forum, June 27.
The drive to develop artificial intelligence technology will lead to China having greater cooperation and communication with global institutions, governments and enterprises to benefit from their experience, a senior government official said on Friday.
Li Meng, vice-minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology, said China welcomes leading multinational AI companies such as Google and Amazon to set up research and development centers in China and cooperate with Chinese enterprises, especially in nurturing high-end professionals and laboratories.
The State Council unveiled a national AI development guideline on Thursday, calling for developing technology, research and educational resources in AI to achieve major breakthroughs by 2025 and make China an AI innovation center by 2030. It is China's first comprehensive guideline on AI development, Li said.
Nurturing and attracting high-end professionals in developing artificial intelligence will be of high priority, the vice-minister said.
"For now the biggest gap between China and global leaders in AI is our severe lack of AI professionals, and we are ready to work with education departments to nurture young professionals in the field," Li said. He said China's current reserve of AI expertise, especially at the high end, falls short of meeting the pressing demand for AI as the country undergoes rapid social and economic progress.
The value of China's core AI industries is expected to exceed 150 billion yuan (.15 billion) by 2020 and 400 billion yuan by 2025, the guideline said.
Li said China is falling behind in areas of basic AI theory, and existing research institutions and companies in China have not formed an AI industrial chain.
The growth of AI will inevitably bring challenges to employment and social ethics, Li said, but such challenges can be addressed through a clear vision and adjustment in the design and implementation of workforce training.
Li said that while technological upgrades to assembly lines have put "large numbers of workers out of work, in the long term, the development of technology has created far larger employment opportunities than expected".
According to Li, prioritization of AI will benefit emerging areas such as the internet of things－involving the networking of devices－and facial recognition. It also will help in upgrading traditional industries such as through smart manufacturing and connected farming.