AmCham China, in collaboration with the United States Information Technology Office (USITO), held an event last week on the development and future trends of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in China and the US. The event drew a sold-out crowd eager to learn more about the technology that has been at the center of high-profile disputes between some of the world's most famous tech titans, including Elon Musk and Mark Zukerberg. The speaker topics covered everything from the technical aspects of AI concerning foreign and Chinese engagement to how AI is predicted to develop and advance.
Four experts of AI presented on developmental trends and technological innovation in China. Jiang Yu, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, discussed how AI development is a priority for the Chinese government and is vital to national security. Wang Jing, Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs at IBM Greater China, gave the perspective from a leading US company with heavy investment in AI. He discussed IBM’s “Watson” platform, which he cited as “cognitive computing”, or the next step in AI development.
Shuai Wang, Director of Technology Strategy and Innovation Incubation at Lenovo Research & Technology, noted from the perspective of a Chinese company that big data has enabled the “Artificial Intelligence 2.0” movement to come to fruition. Finally, Liu Changpeng, Director of AI Technology Planning for System Products at ZTE Corporation, mentioned the practical applications for AI that ZTE is developing, including tools for the Nanjing police department.
There are many practical applications for AI technology and development. Specifically, the healthcare sector was identified as a growth area by many of the speakers. Machines embedded with complex algorithms have proven effective in diagnosing patients in rural Chinese hospitals where there is lower accessibility to medical staff and facilities. These machines also learn over time and improve as data is collected.
Beyond recognizing the growing importance of AI, there are still several challenges ahead if we are to fully utilize the technology at hand. Technical issues including lack of reliable data, inefficient algorithms, cloud-related security concerns, and policy restrictions all represent challenges for the development of AI in China. In addition, concerns regarding the philosophical aspects of this development arose, as many questioned whether technology has the potential to take the place of humans. Long-term issues and ethical questions still remain, however, and workers are often left to wonder if their jobs could be replaced by AI in the future.
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