China set to become a leader in artificial intelligence

China set to become a leader in artificial intelligence

China is set to become a leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. For that, the state spends billions. Chinese consumers are already experiencing the effects in everyday life today.

Although not all experts agree, self-driving cars could become reality in China more quickly than in any other part of the world. Finally, legal regulations, traffic management and sensor technology also play a role in this field. But one thing is certain: China's government has recognised the importance of future technologies. And it leaves no doubt that it is determined to win the global competition, for example in the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI).


By 2030, the People's Republic of China is to become an AI super power - according to a plan of the State Council. There is no comprehensive overview of the country’s investments in this sector, however a huge number of research projects and other initiatives have been started, including the construction of a $2.1 billion AI technology park in Beijing. By comparison, the US government spent $1.2 billion on “non-secret� AI programs in 2016. And the current administration plans to reduce spending on science and technology by 15 percent.


The pinnacle of AI research undoubtedly still lies with the Americans and Canadians, but China is making up ground fast, with the number of researchers in this field growing rapidly. At last year's Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), the world's premier AI conference, 23 percent of the papers were submitted by Chinese - this is an increase of 13 percent compared to 2012; while in the same period the influence of American scientists fell dramatically, from 41 percent to now 34 percent.


Volkswagen Group China and Mobvoi Inc., a leading Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) company, have entered a strategic partnership in 2017. The joint venture will develop and apply AI technologies to automotive industry. Utilising Mobvoi’s leading voice recognition, natural language processing technologies, vertical search and proactive search, together with Volkswagen’s know-how and leading position as an automotive and mobility player, the joint venture shall continue to explore and provide the answer to the future smart mobility.


Not only money and research are crucial in this competition. At least as important is data. The developers are constantly feeding the AI algorithms with new information and thus forcing the deep learning of the connected machines. This is about everything: from personal information, preferences and hobbies, about buying and eating habits to friends, acquaintances and work colleagues. The more data processed, the greater the importance of those processing them, as the success of Facebook and Google shows.

In this field, China is already ahead of the USA, as – according to iResearch, a Shanghai-based consulting firm – its citizens used their smartphones to make $5.5 trillion worth of transactions in 2016, about 50 times as much as in the US. Of course, mobile payments are steadily increasing in America, but in China there are currently around 750 million people online. Ninety-five percent of them use a mobile device, according to China Internet Network Information Centre. They use programs like WeChat, Baidu or Weibo - China's WhatsApp, Google or Twitter - and leave new data every time.


Useful applications

China and its people embrace new technologies and are open for applications that make life easier, for example through AI facial recognition: In the Chinese metropolis Hangzhou and in Beijing customers of the food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken pay their bills with their face. After ordering, a 3D camera quickly scans the customer's face and identifies it. The process takes little more than a few seconds. The US is still the world leader in technology, above all thanks to ideas and innovations from Silicon Valley. But China has begun to catch up and is starting to leap.

Source: – Volkswagen AG

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