China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) recently issued its latest artificial intelligence (AI) development plan with the aim to build Chinese colleges and universities into the world’s leading AI innovation centers and engines by 2030.
In the plan, it sets out three goals in three periods: By 2020, universities will make breakthroughs in AI basic theories and key technology research. By 2025, universities will gain a series of innovative achievements with international influences. When it comes to 2030, Chinese colleges and universities will act as the world’s leading AI innovation centers and engines.
The rapid development of AI has been a characteristic of China's technology. Statistics indicated that a total of 1,354 enterprises involved in AI techonology has been established in China since 2012. Total investment in the sector in 2017 surpassed $9.9 billion, more than 100 times higher than that in 2012.
However, China still faces a large shortage of top AI talent.
Goldman Sachs said in its report that in the 2017 emerging AI projects, China accounts for 51 percent and overtook the US. Nevertheless, among the global AI talent, China only has 5 percent. The country faces an AI talent shortage of 5 million.
The MOE's plan can help close the gap. The plan highlights the role of universities and colleges in cultivating AI talent by providing world-class teaching materials and national-level high-quality online open courses.
In the future, China is bound to see a more prosperous development of AI technology. The market has seen the thriving AI industry. China's Internet giants, such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, are paying more attention to cultivating AI experts, and investing heavily in data centers to compete with their international rivals like Google and Microsoft.
Baidu, for example, has always had a passion for AI technology. In 2014, it set up a lab to study deep learning in business, and has made substantial progress. Then in 2017, when Microsoft put forward a speech recognition system which could operate better than humans, Baidu had already developed that a year earlier.
Besides, Baidu’s deep learning platform PaddlePaddle has teamed up with Chinese universities to promote its AI technology.
China is rich in data necessary to train AI systems. China has easier access to data collection and owns huge databases. In the future, China can make full use of the data to develop AI.
According to the AI talent report released by LinkedIn last year, well-educated people account for a large part of China's AI personnel, with postgraduates and above accounting for 62.1 percent. These highly educated talents will also propel the AI industry.