Future | Key Takeaways from Webinar 'AI in China: 2020 and Beyond'

Technology Author: Yingwei Fu Editor: Luke Sheehan Jul 15, 2020 02:00 PM (GMT+8)

EqualOcean held an online event on June 30. Here is what 500 Startups' Stella Zheng and Zhuiyi Technology's Terry Ke think about the pandemic and AI.

WIM Salon X Online: AI in China: 2020 and Beyond

EqualOcean held a live webinar on the topic 'AI in China: 2020 and Beyond' with Terry Ke, Strategy Director of Zhuiyi Technology, and Stella Zheng, head of Mainland China of 500 Startups. We discussed the status quo of AI’s development in China and the challenges ahead of passionate entrepreneurs. AI has become a norm these days. Certainly worth a conversation. Below are the key insights from our webinar.

In this series of follow-up articles, we will walk through selected insights shared by our guest speakers. The topics include:

AI in China: COVID19 and AI

AI in China: Challenges

AI in China: Good Practice

AI in China: Future

EqualOcean: Quite a few publications have called China an ‘AI Superpower.’ How do you see the country’s position in the global AI market? What are your projections on possible shifts in the global technology landscape?

Stella: China is leading in the deployment of AI. The local governments of the country’s southern provinces are the biggest users and promoters of AI in China. One of my friends is the head of the AI lab of JD.com, and he told me that they set up a branch to assist the traditional industry in upgrading, which is supported by the local government. The city government will pay for traditional enterprises to employ AI solutions from the AI lab. China’s government is ambitious about catching up with the United States to be a leader in the AI area by 2030.

As mentioned earlier, China has advantages in data collecting, data processing, and storage. As an investor, we select startups from all over the world. Thereby we will compare AI companies with those in the US. I found that there are some weak points in Chinese AI startups.

The first among them is hardware: there are not that many Chinese companies developing competitive AI chips. Secondly, the Chinese market lacks open-source AI platforms. However, I have seen that the government is actively pushing the platform project forward. After all, I have strong faith in China’s AI development.

Terry: China is in good shape in terms of fundamental research and practical solutions to the ground – we are not letting AI concepts float in the sky. The advantage in China is that the government prioritizes AI at a national level and all parties are open to adopting the new tech in practical scenarios. This action can provide benefits to people, like COVID-19 AI solutions mentioned previously.

I also see that the trend will shift AI applications from the consumer side to the enterprise side. As Zhuiyi emphasizes on to-business AI solutions, our company is increasing our footprint into enterprises, who are willing to discuss with us how AI works and how we can utilize AI to solve problems. The shift will change China’s AI landscape.

One aspect that China differs from the US in terms of cloud structure is that most of the US’ AI models are based on the cloud and based on the SaaS model, while China is more hybrid. I feel that numerous AI solutions are on the premises – they are not on the cloud but local-based. If we put AI solutions on the cloud, how to manage models, how to consume computational power, and so on are different stories. Those are creating differences between two countries and ongoing forward phases.

Both the US and China have the first-mover advantage. When we have such an advantage, we share different benefits with other countries. The rest of the world may observe that the two countries are playing beyond the par, so they try to learn and start to adopt similar AI solutions in their own countries that have proven successful in China and the US, with some localized adjustments. It is in their best interest to cut off the time of initial exploration, which is a time-consuming phase. Learners can jump directly to the practical stage and we provide a lesson to them – if a trap exists, they can bypass it and keep moving. No one needs to start from scratch.

The full record of WIM Salon X Online | AI in China: 2020 and Beyond