Below is my translation of a recent article from AINet discussing the comments of some leading figures of the Chinese tech industry on the topic of “AI+” (a buzzword in Chinese discourse referring to the application of AI techniques to various different sectors) at the 2019 “Two Sessions” – the yearly gathering of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
At 2019’s Two Sessions, “AI+” a Hot Topic Again
What are the expectations of the NPC deputies and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference who will attend the conference in 2019, and what are the foci of their attention?
Author: Zhang Kangkang
Since the beginning of the two sessions, artificial intelligence technology has always been a focus of attention of party and state leaders as well as members of industry and academic circles. This year is the third consecutive time that Premier Li Keqiang has mentioned the development of the artificial intelligence industry in the government work report. At the same time, the intelligence upgrade of traditional industry has also been highlighted in this year’s government work report. In order to adapt to new situations and new needs, and better implement the “Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan”, the CPPCC National Committee has designated the theme of the first bi-weekly consultation symposium as “the development and countermeasures of artificial intelligence.”
In 2017, “Artificial Intelligence” was first included in the government work report of the two sessions of the National People’s Congress. Many representatives and members also proposed to accelerate the implementation of the national strategy of artificial intelligence. 2018 was a year in which artificial intelligence gained momentum in China, with major players such as BAT as well as AI start-ups such as Megvii, SenseTime, Video++, and YITU Technology all shining brightly in their respective fields. In 2019, artificial intelligence will continue to expand its scope of application to all of industry under the impetus of the government.
Leading figures in the scientific and technological circles, members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Ma Huateng, Li Yanhong, Ding Lei, Wang Xiaochuan, etc. also expressed their views on the topic of artificial intelligence.
Ma Huateng: AI+Physical Industry – Promoting High Quality Development of the Physical Economy
Ma Huateng, National People’s Congress representative and chairman and CEO of Tencent, submitted seven written proposals concerning issues of special interest such as industrial internet, basic scientific research, science and technology ethics, the Hong Kong and Macau Greater Bay Area, protection of minors online, employment, and ecological protection.
Ma Huateng believes that the development of the industrial internet will provide historic opportunities and technical conditions for the high-quality development of the physical economy, and will have an all-round, in-depth and revolutionary impact on the physical economy. In this process, Internet companies are not in a competitive race with traditional enterprises, but acting as their “digitized assistants”, serving as connectors, toolboxes and co-creators of the [commercial] ecosystem, helping physical industry to grow rapidly on their tracks.
Li Yanhong: The Opportunity of “AI+” – Promoting the Healthy Development of the Industry
Li Yanhong, member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and chairman of Baidu, presented three proposals at this year’s two sessions regarding intelligent transportation, electronic medical records, and artificial intelligence ethics, all related to artificial intelligence.
Li Yanhong proposed that the country should establish a data sharing and use mechanism, encourage localities to explore and construct intelligent transportation solutions, continue to implement and improve the electronic medical record filing standards, encourage medical institutions to strengthen cooperation with both scientific research institutes and businesses, and improve technical standards and legal protection regarding data use. He recommended that the responsible government departments take the lead in organizing stakeholders such as interdisciplinary industry experts, representatives of artificial intelligence enterprises, industry users and the public to carry out research and top-level design of artificial intelligence ethics, to promote the improvement of the people’s livelihood and the healthy development of industry.
Li Yanhong stated that artificial intelligence is in a period of great strategic development opportunities. If artificial intelligence can be utilized well, it could greatly improve the efficiency of traditional production capacity, which will be a new stimulus to overall economic development. In the future, artificial intelligence will be applied to all sectors, such as transportation, education, medical care, entertainment, and finance.
Ding Lei: AI+Education – Promoting Urban and Rural Education Levels
Ding Lei, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and director and CEO of Netease, brought up topics such as “Innovative Intelligent Education Method”, “Assisting Advanced Manufacturing Upgrading”, “Ecommerce Precision Poverty Alleviation” and “Minors’ Healthy Internet Use”.
Ding Lei said, “Using Internet innovation and intelligent education methods such as “AI+ Education” will help eliminate the urban-rural education gap, eliminate the intergenerational transmission of poverty, and promote the balanced development of urban and rural education in China.
At the same time, Ding Lei also proposed to deepen the development of the industrial Internet of Things and foster independent Chinese manufacturing brands to meet consumption upgrade demand. The government should strengthen standards to guide and promote the industry’s healthy growth and active use of artificial intelligence and big data to understand user needs, optimize production, and push Chinese manufacturing towards intelligentization, premiumization, and marketization. [Assuming the period was an error in the original and penultimate/last sentences should be combined]
Wang Xiaochuan: AI+Medicine – Accelerating the Release of Digital Family Doctors’ Potential
Wang Xiaochuan, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and CEO of Sogou, is concerned with issues related to health care reform. At the meeting, he said that [the Party(?)] should speed up the release of the potential of digital family doctors, empower primary health services, and advocate the opening of public data in the field of artificial intelligence. He believes that artificial intelligence, as an important means to ameliorate insufficiencies and imbalances in public welfare service resources, can effectively promote the supply-side structural reform in services for the people’s livelihood.
Wang Xiaochuan expressed that data is an important foundation for establishing China’s competitive advantage in the field of artificial intelligence. However, the openness of public data in China still faces problems such as limited degree of openness and poor quality. Meanwhile, the closed data environment restricts the development of artificial intelligence in the area of people’s livelihood, and the latent potential of data has not yet been fully released.
At present, artificial intelligence is appearing ever more frequently in major conferences and government work reports. This is not at all difficult to understand. As science and technology rapidly advances, more and more STEM entrepreneurs are offering advice and making suggestions for scientific and technological innovation, developing new economic momentum and improving the people’s livelihood. Their proposals also often reflect the new direction of future economic development. In 2019, and further into the future, the extent to which the field of science and technology will develop is worthy of everyone’s expectations.