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Chinas Big AI Plan: Do Toys Count, Too?

The most convincing indication of China's rise in the AI market that I recently came across was the plethora of AI-driven toys displayed, demonstrated, and pitched at shop after shop in the Shenzhen airport.

eetimes.com, Dec. 11, 2018 – 

China's big AI plan – to dominate the global market with its AI technology by 2030 – is widely known and deeply feared in the rest of the world. The lingering mystery, though, is how much of the best-laid plans of China will come to pass, if ever.

China's State Council proposed in July 2017 "A Next-Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan." It says that China will ultimately become the world leader in artificial intelligence, with a domestic AI industry worth almost $150 billion by 2030. The first step is to catch up with the United States on AI technology and applications by 2020.

It's easy to call this mere bravado, but it's probably not wise. As I see it, the Chinese genie is already out of the bottle.

Beijing's "national champion" technology leaders – Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and iFlyTek – are established, successful firms. They are leading the development of innovation platforms such as self-driving cars, smart cities, computer vision for medical diagnosis, and voice intelligence. The newest "national champion" listed by Beijing is the Hong Kong startup SenseTime, which specializes in face- and image-recognition technology.

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