It wasn’t that long ago when “Made in China” symbolized knockoff electronic devices and cheaply made consumer products. Now Made in China is a mark of value, creativity, and originality, and the intellectual property pendulum has swung eastward.
There were 473 Artificial Intelligence patents filed by China at WIPO in 2017, representing 31% of all AI-related patents filed during that timeframe. The United States came in second place, far behind with 65 AI patents (10%). Baidu, a Chinese search engine, filed the most AI patents in China at 183. Tencent recently opened an AI lab in Shenzhen with a vision to “Make AI Everywhere” — developing a number of applications to expand its social media supremacy beyond its borders.
Made in China 2025 (MIC 2025) is a 10-year, comprehensive blueprint with an ambitious goal – to transform China into an advanced manufacturing leader. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Made in China 2025 provides preferential access to capital to Chinese companies to help promote their research and development capabilities, support their ability to acquire technology from abroad, and improve their overall competitiveness.
In 2017, 48 percent of total equity funding of AI start-ups globally came from China, compared to 38 percent funded by the US, and 13 percent by the rest of the world. China’s patents in the AI industry accounted for about 22 percent of the total globally, according to an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
In July 2017, China’s State Council published a roadmap for the country to become “the world’s primary AI innovation center” by 2030. The plan aims to grow the country’s core AI industries to over 150 billion yuan ($24 billion) by 2020 and 400 billion yuan ($63 billion) by 2025 and be the world leader in AI by 2030.
JD.com, one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world, has been taking a series of steps toward increased automation, with a commitment to AI, robotics, and big data, investing a remarkable 30 billion yuan ($4.5 billion) in an AI-powered retail research center. “I hope my company would be 100% automation someday… no human beings anymore, 100% operated by AI and robots,” says Richard Liu, founder and CEO of JD.com.
Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (BAT) with a combined market capitalization of $1 trillion are also making extraordinary gains in AI. The Chinese science ministry announced earlier this year that the country’s open AI platforms would rely heavily on Baidu for autonomous driving, Alibaba for smart cities and Tencent for AI in healthcare.
There are several other Chinese companies to watch closely in the AI sector, including: Cambricon, a semiconductor and AI chip company; Cloudwalk, pioneering facial recognition and 3D scanning technology, DJI, a leading drone manufacturer supporting AI and image analysis; SenseTime, an image recognition tech company; and Ubtech Robotics, a promising robot development company.
“The surge of AI development comes from three primary factors: first, the improvement of social digitalization allows us to collect data at an unprecedented scale and speed; second, the improvement in computing capabilities, especially the emergence of image processors, has enabled many computationally intensive AI applications to complete training and inference in a time people cannot; third, the development in machine learning and neuroscience over the past six decades has made deep neural networks and other algorithms more advanced,” explains Dr. Steve Deng, Chief AI Scientist for Matrix AI Network, a Hong Kong-based blockchain and AI technology company. MATRIX AI Network is merging artificial intelligence and the blockchain to leverage natural language programming and adaptive deep learning-based templates to auto-code smart contracts.
In one of the more promising use cases for AI technology, Matrix AI Network is collaborating with several top-rated Chinese hospitals, such as Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital at Tongji University, and Huadong Hospital at Fudan University, to develop early cancer diagnostic systems for lung, thyroid and liver cancers. The “integration of blockchain and AI is bridging several emerging issues for AI in the medical field. There is a growing demand for parallel processing, and quick turnaround of different kinds of AI-assisted diagnoses,” says Deng.
Another area where Deng sees growth is in transportation and logistics. Matrix is developing an intelligent global freight shipping application platform for the Beijing Haitong Transport Company integrating big data information processing, smart contracts, DApps, financial services and payment systems that will be built on the Matrix AI Network blockchain.
Looking across the everchanging technology landscape, it won’t be long before some of the most innovative products and services coming from the world’s largest and most successful companies are Made in China.