China is betting big on artificial intelligence (AI). On July 20, China published a new grand plan on developing its AI industries, claiming that the development of AI has been raised up to the level of national strategy.
The newly-published plan was issued by China’s State Council, demonstrating that the plan is approved and promoted by the highest levels of the central government.
The plan sets three strategic goals for China’s AI industry with specific figures. [Emphasis added below.]
- By 2020, Chinese AI technology and its application should reach the world’s advanced level; the AI industries should become a new significant economic growth point; several world-leading AI enterprises should have been nurtured; and the value of the country’s core AI industries should exceed 150 billion yuan ($22.15 billion) and that of the related industries should be more than 1 trillion yuan.
- By 2025, the basic theory for AI should achieve a major breakthrough; part of the technology and application should reach the world-leading level; and the value of the country’s core AI industries should exceed 400 billion yuan ($59.07 billion) and that of the related industries should be more than 5 trillion yuan.
- By 2030, China should be the world-center of AI technology and the AI economy; the AI industries should have reached the top level; and the value of the country’s core AI industries should exceed 1 trillion yuan ($147.7 billion) and that of the related industries should be more than 10 trillion yuan.
In fact, it is not the first time that China has vowd to develop AI technology. On May 14, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his opening speech of the “One-Belt. One Road” Summit, already mentioned China’s ambition on innovation, including digital economy, nanotechnology, quantum computers, and AI.
One professor at the Shanghai University of Science and Technology claimed that under the Chinese government’s strong promotion, “many Chinese AI scholars and experts who used to work in foreign countries have decided to come to China and become leaders in various positions.”
The professor’s observation might not be exaggeration. Kai-Fu Lee, a former Google China CEO and now a venture capitalist, recently commented and made speeches on AI on multiple occasions. He believes that China will soon become a superpower in the world’s AI market and that 50 percent of all current jobs will be replaced by AI in the future.