(Yicai Global) Sept. 4 -- The United States is often seen as a leader in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).
China, the world's second largest economy, has now become its main competitor.
China is equipped with the first three of the most important four elements that drive development of AI, namely talents, data, infrastructure and computing power, where the domestic semiconductor industry is making encouraging progress despite China's ongoing reliance on foreign suppliers.
"There is almost no gap between China and the United States in terms of artificial intelligence applications based on open source platforms, such as the field of machine vision," Shi Jianbo, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert in the machine vision area, told Yical Global. "China is even more likely to surpass the US in other aspects, such as face recognition technology based on human tag data. However, with regard to the process from basic algorithms to systematic development, the gap between China and the United States is relatively large, for it requires a lot of "experience-based work," he said.
The inadequate talent pool is a long-term problem facing the development of AI, and great efforts need to go toward training artificial intelligence professionals.
Technology giants in the US set up research and development laboratories around the world to recruit talents. MIT, for example, started to develop relevant research projects in areas including computer vision and robotics and set up laboratories as early as 1963.
MIT's AI technology has been undergoing decades of research and accumulation, and it was the wave of AI that finally caused enterprises to highly regard the technology and promote its commercialization, Eric Grigson, MIT's honorary president, told Yicai Global.
Chinese companies have begun to learn such practices of their US rivals, and the three major giants (Baidu Inc. [NASDAQ:BIDU], Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. [NYSE:BABA] and Tencent Holdings Ltd. [HK:0700]) have set up their respective research centers in Silicon Valley in California, US. Lu Qi resigned from Microsoft Corp. [NASDAQ:MSFT] earlier this year to join Baidu while Yu Dong left Microsoft to join Tencent. Both joined to fortify the two giants' research and development strengths in AI.
Equally important is the algorithm and performance of AI depend on the chip processor and computing power. Though China greatly relies on foreign chip suppliers, China's domestic enterprises are making encouraging process in the field of chips, per the latest industry research report from Goldman Sachs.
The US is still firmly in control of the core chip technology. The Trump administration will decide in the next two weeks whether to approve an acquisition with a Chinese player in the chip industry.
As to the beneficiaries of China's domestic AI technology development, the referenced Goldman Sachs report believes that those reaping the initial bounty will be the three giants (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) which have unique advantages in AI thanks to their possession of massive and unique databases.
Others who stand to gain also include e-commerce and ride-hailing operators, such as meituan.com, didichuxing.com, and companies that provide internet services, the reported added.