China already at forefront of AI development, says expert

Updated 2018-05-17 13:30:00 Xinhua

Photo taken on May 16, 2018 shows a robot show during the 2nd World Intelligence Congress in Tianjin, north China. Over 1,800 artificial intelligence experts from 17 countries and regions participated in the congress that kicked off on Wednesday.

China has already been at the forefront of the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and will take the lead in the field over time, a senior expert said during the 2nd AI for Good Global Summit in Geneva.

In an interview on Wednesday, Zhao Houlin, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), told Xinhua that China has definitely gained the capability of spearheading AI development in the world, as the it stood out with conspicuous advantages.

Though China's core technologies, such as high-end chip manufacturing, cannot go neck to neck with world's top-tier technologies, Zhao said, China still enjoys incomparable advantages, in terms of the progress it has made in AI research and development, its market size, AI application range and promotion efforts. He gave the examples of drones, robots and unmanned vehicles to illustrate his points.

Another advantage that many countries don't have, Zhao stressed, is that China's top policymakers are able to play a bigger part in developing AI, so as to better allocate resources and lay out overall planning.

Besides, he said that China's second mover advantages are obvious. Although the United States owns the world's largest internet companies, China has a batch of companies to compete with the United States, and thus provides alternative services to both its domestic and overseas customers. China can even do better in the localization of AI technologies, Zhao noted.

However, the head of the ITU pointed out that Chinese enterprises still need to improve its innovative abilities, as few of the latest concepts and ideas came from China.

He also mentioned that the world should not put too much emphasis on how AI would likely cause changes in current rules and regulations, as well as market restrictions.

He said there is much to be discussed about how AI could better fit into human society and how to set rules in AI application, as AI is still in its infancy.

The 2nd AI for Good Global Summit, kicked off Tuesday, is looking for concrete artificial intelligence (AI) projects that can accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Zhao said at the event's opening ceremony.

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