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China is the World Leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Its Present and the Future

AI in China is ahead of American Businesses. The US has been a haven for scientific research and technological development for as long as we can remember. However, with the entry of countries like China into the game, things have changed dramatically.

China Artificial Intelligence plan

AI in China started as a game of catch-up with the US, but as of 2022, it was noticeably ahead of the US and its counterparts concerning AI research. AI-driven Chinese companies like Alibaba and Bytedance (TikTok) are just some of the examples in the consumer apps category.

The real innovation has been in manufacturing, logistics, healthcare and life science, automation and enterprise software, where these sectors, when combined, offer $600 billion to the Chinese economy in the future. Talking about research in AI, In 2021, China produced about 1/3 of AI journal papers and AI citations worldwide in 2021.

So, how did Chinese AI companies suddenly overtake the whole world literally despite starting their research so late?

The growth of AI in China: Reverse-engineering or real innovation

Somehow, most people feel that China doesn’t produce anything original. While that may have been true during the early 70s to late 2000s, China was able to improve its technology in the period in between dramatically. This can be seen in the achievement of pioneers like Wen-Tsun Wu, who debuted automated theorem proving and engineers like Bo Zhang and Ruqian Lu.

With the incremental improvement in computer processing techniques and the gradual increase in the amount of processing power computers could yield, things only got more heated. All of a sudden, computers didn’t have to be so rigid anymore.

Make no mistake – artificial intelligence and deep learning have their roots all the way back in the 60s, but the kind of technology needed to bring them to fruition was just too immense. In 2019, Chinese schools added AI education to their school curriculum to develop AI in literacy among preschoolers from kindergarten age.

With the increasing power available for use, computers could now be programmed to learn on their own essentially. Rather than rewriting the whole system, all that had to be done was to change a few operating parameters, and everything started working perfectly. Companies could now collect more data in one day than we had ever seen in the whole of human existence.

China AI robot

How China’s AI revolution played out

After decades of copying and perfecting pretty much the same things America was doing, China finally learned how to rely on itself. The whole process played out in five essential steps that have made China the leader we know today.

Capital, Interest, and execution

First things first, China needed people in the upcoming technology. China utilized its ever-increasing population and got young people interested in the development of artificial intelligence. Couple that with what was almost endless amounts of capital being poured into anything that advertised itself as an AI company.

This combination of eager investors and even more eager startups looking to make a name for themselves proved a very lucrative opportunity. The result was incredibly rapid prototyping and some remarkable results. For instance, Chinese AI companies like Megvi (Face++) started as a computer vision company in the gaming industry before pivoting to finance, where it specializes in fraud avoidance. Other companies like AInnovation would wind up using the same technologies in their hardware – computer-driven checkout kiosks were suddenly a reality.

The battle for data

The second phase of the battle, which the US couldn’t possibly hope to match, is the sheer amount of data China produces. With a population of over a billion, China is the most populated country in the world. The amount of data this population produces is almost impossible to wrap your head around. Considering the more data you have, the better your AI, this is an incredibly important factor.

China is virtually a cashless economy – everything is done over the phone. This means that the average Chinese user is much more reliant on their device than the average American. In the end, China produces about three hundred times more data than the US.

Endless trial and error

There’s no doubt in any expert’s mind that AI technology in China began in the usual copycat way. However, if there’s one thing the Chinese have in their favor is the opportunity to fail again and again without ever really dying. They are the embodiment of what Americans think of as a ‘lean startup’ – they build their products fast, try to find a market and pivot as soon as they realize they need to.

Aside from the Face++, as mentioned earlier, other examples include Didi and thousands of other copycats that propped up. Chinese AI experts tried out every iteration they could think of: shared bikes, shared scooters, shared concrete mixers, shared mopeds and even shared phone chargers. It may seem ridiculous (and it is, considering most of them quickly fade to obscurity), but some inevitably stick around.

Government assistance

Lastly, the government considers AI in China an incredibly important milestone. The Chinese government under Xi Jinping has done more to pave the way for AI Jobs in China than possibly any other country today. A large and highly skilled AI workforce required to fulfill the dynamic AI targets is something that the Chinese education set-up is consistently working on.

Policies devised by the current government have helped these companies grow and flourish, in line with the president’s goal of being a global innovation hub by 2030. The race is still on, and

China isn’t too far ahead. There’s a 50/50 percent chance of them winning it either way.

China’s rise in the artificial intelligence sector

China, formerly known as the “Factory of the world” and famous for its large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa and some parts of Asia, is now on the verge of being announced as a hub for innovative development and applications of AI.

The upcoming boom in the field of AI in China is possible through the operations of top companies in China, Baidu and Tencent. The rising revolution of AI in China is unstoppable. It is expected to reach new levels in the next few years as it’s predicted to add a staggering $600 billion to its economy.

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