After a decade working in Silicon Valley, northern California, Xiao Jing, a Chinese scientist specializing in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, decided to come back to China, and Shenzhen became his new home.
As the generation that enjoyed dividends of China's economic reform and opening-up, Xiao, born in the 1970s, pursued his college degree at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and then went to the U.S. in 1999 to gain a PhD in AI.
"This opening-up process is a miracle, for both individuals and companies," Xiao told the Global Times on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in his Shenzhen office in the tallest building in the city, with 115 stories.
"In 1998, I participated for the first time in the International Conference on Pattern Recognition, which was one of the top global conferences about AI," he said. "I met a Japanese scientist at that time, and he was surprised to find out there were scientists in China doing AI," Xiao smiled.
Today, China is emerging as rival to the U.S. in the AI sector, and the government has set a target to grow core AI industries to more than 150 billion yuan (.15 billion) by 2020 and 400 billion yuan by 2025.
"Now, more than half of the participants at top AI-related conferences are Chinese, and Chinese scientists are producing more and more research papers," Xiao noted.
After working at Microsoft's web search engine Bing in the areas of user profiling and data analysis, Xiao said AI technology might be used in more scenarios.
"In this regard, China has more opportunities. From the penetration of the internet to big data to machine learning, more traditional industries need to be upgraded with innovative technology," he said.
Xiao came back to China under the national Recruitment Program of Global Experts plan, which is also known as the Thousand Talents Plan. The plan, initiated in 2008, aims at bringing back top talent from overseas to help develop China's high-technology and emerging industries. "Also, I was raised in a military family, so I have a strong attachment to the motherland," he said. He joined Ping An Technology - a technology arm of Ping An Group - as chief scientist in 2015, and he works on AI technologies that could be applied in different scenarios.