China has already released full set of incentive policies for AI: industry insiders
There are now more than 1,000 artificial intelligence (AI) companies in China, the second-highest in the world. China is exploring a unique development path in the sector that allows market demand and application to lead technological innovation, reported the Economic Information Daily at the sidelines of 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference.

Jack Ma, the co-founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, a multinational technology conglomerate, delivered a keynote speech for the gathering, indicating the significance of the Shanghai conference is huge.

“AI used to be considered within the framework of technology and engineers were guests of honor for such events,” he said, noting in Shanghai where service industry comprises over 70 percent of the GDP, AI technology has a bigger chance of becoming advanced. “In the future, the manufacturing industry will be combined with the service sector to further improve customer experience,” said Jack Ma, indicating that’ll be where the core competitiveness lies.

Pony Ma, the founder and CEO of Tencent, another tech billionaire, agreed with the idea, noting that Shanghai would especially gain momentum in AI development in his speech for the Shanghai conference. “Shanghai is capable of providing the most abundant big data and application scenarios for AI technological breakthroughs. Besides, the city boasts the whole industry chain from intelligent chips to hardware, software and services,” he said.

In the future, the city will build around 60 “scenarios for in-depth application of AI technology” and over 100 demonstration projects, three or four AI “characteristic towns” and five special administration industrial parks, announced Shanghai municipal government officials on Monday.

China began to encourage development of AI technology several years ago. In July 2015, the State Council, China’s cabinet, released a guideline on cultivating the AI industry. Since then, a raft of national industrial policies have been released to form a comprehensive industry chain including computing chips, open-source platform, basic application, and application in sectors and products.

The industry also gained boost at local levels, with the central government’s lead. From 2016 till now, over 20 cities and provinces including Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Anhui, Jilin, and Guizhou have rolled out incentive policies.

Industry insiders generally believe China has basically formed an effective policy system to coordinate the central and local governments to help prop up a booming AI industry. Wu Heshuang, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering said that through industry-university-research integration and more self-sufficient AI industry ecosystem, China has good prospects to gain cutting-edge expertise in the field, the Economic Information Daily reported.

At the conference, it was also emphasized by technology tycoons that AI technology must be put under control to make sure it will not inflict harm on human beings.

Pony Ma put forward four “questions”. First, will AI algorithm be made more transparent and explicable? Second, how (do we) prevent the technology from jeopardizing interests of individuals or humanity as a whole? Third, can the technology be accessed and employed by more people to prevent a technology gap? And fourth, can it more efficiently remedy its own loopholes?

Robin Li, the co-founder of search engine Baidu, expressed concerns that with the big data being more widely employed, privacy problems may emerge, so he suggested companies to take into consideration security and ethics issues. Ironically, Robin Li was previously cited as saying that Chinese customers tended to give up on private data in exchange for convenience, drawing harsh criticism on Chinese social media at that time.

Jack Ma pointed out AI technology innovation would meanwhile pose challenges to government’s administrative abilities. “It’s easier to wipe out an industry than propping up one. Outdated productivity must be phased out for the society’s progress. Protecting the backward industries would especially bring damage to innovation,” he elaborated.


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