AI helps drive broad transformation
Artificial intelligence, a key technology in driving digital transformation, has played a vital role in promoting the development of the real economy and accelerating the nation's push for industrial upgrading, company executives and industry experts said.
AI has become a core driving force for the new round of technological and industrial revolution in China, bringing tremendous changes to the country's development and people's lives in many fields, including healthcare, education, transportation, security and finance, said Ren Xianliang, chairman of the China Federation of Internet Societies.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, AI-powered technologies have been widely applied in sectors such as source tracing of virus transmissions, virus detection, remote diagnosis and treatment and resource allocation, Ren said.
The remark came after Chinese top leadership called for efforts to strengthen and expand China's digital economy through promotion of in-depth integration of digital technologies with the real economy last month. AI serves as an important cutting-edge digital technology.
In 2020, the size of the global AI industry reached $156.5 billion, a year-on-year increase of 12 percent, according to research firm IDC. In China, that number stood at 303.1 billion yuan, up 15 percent from the previous year, said the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.
The nation ranks first in the world in the number of AI patents, Xiao Yaqing, minister of industry and information technology, said during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai in July.
China's AI industry development has made significant progress, with technological innovation capabilities in some areas ranking among tops in the world, Xiao said. The core industry is continuously growing and the integration of AI and the real economy has further deepened, he added.
A total of 909,401 AI-related patents had been applied for by China as of September, said a report by the China Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team and the Electronic Intellectual Property Center under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
China's tech companies have invested heavily in AI-based research and development. Baidu Inc was chosen to lead the establishment of the country's AI national laboratory on deep learning in 2017. Self-driving technologies are important for the national research project. Deep learning is a type of artificial intelligence that sets up computers to solve problems based on experience.
The application of AI technology is reshaping the landscape of industries to become a transformative force revolutionizing future human development over the next 40 years, said Robin Li, co-founder and CEO of Baidu.
"Baidu's approach to AI technology has always revolved around delivering equitable outcomes by making technology more accessible, providing freedom and possibilities for all," Li said.
The Beijing-based tech heavyweight has beefed up efforts to launch self-driving taxi services to boost large-scale commercial use of its growing transportation options.
Li said the goal of the intelligent transformation of industries and society ushered in by AI is to fulfill the needs of people, making technology meaningful only if it serves humanity through the creation of more value and contributes to society.
Tech heavyweight Tencent Holdings launched its AI Lab in April 2016. It places an emphasis on basic research into computer vision, speech recognition, natural language processing and machine learning.
The tech giant also works to put fundamental research to practical use, applying AI to its key businesses, including medicine, social interaction, online games and cloud computing. It also operates Youtu Lab, which has developed advanced technologies in facial and image recognition and voice identification.