AI to help country's goal of achieving high-quality growth

2018-12-27 10:53:04China Daily Editor : Mo Hong'e ECNS App Download

Two disabled runners wearing AI-supported equipment take part in a charity marathon event in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, on Nov 19. (Photo by Zhang Jie/for China Daily)

Sun Mingxu,founder of BetR Medical Technology Co Ltd, based at the University of Salford, UK:

How will AI help to drive China's high-quality economic growth? What core AI technologies must China master for that purpose?

China's top leadership is wise in placing an emphasis on growing the artificial intelligence sector, because AI is a relatively young and fast-growing industry globally. So China's scope to enjoy the first-mover advantage is significant.

AI does not exist in isolation, because AI technology has broad application potential across medical care, transportation, advanced engineering, education, high-end manufacturing, and many other sectors. In this sense, AI's potential to contribute to global growth and China's goal to achieve a structural shift into a knowledge economy is immense.

Effectively, AI technology can help China to develop cutting-edge technologies and more efficient manufacturing processes, as well as to improve many products' consumer experience. All these benefits are completely in sync with China's goal of achieving high-quality growth.

I believe key AI fields China should master include chips, smarter algorithms in natural language processing, imaging, and speech recognition. All these are fundamental building blocks of the AI sector, and can contribute to the advancement of AI technology for wider applications.

My personal suggestion to Chinese AI startups is to focus on becoming the best in one specialized niche area of their choice, to add practical value to the AI field and avoid competing with giant international AI companies that are already established.

What industries and areas will be profoundly reshaped by AI technology? What is the key to incorporating AI into different industries?

Industries such as medical care, pharmacy, transportation and smartphone manufacturing are already being profoundly reshaped by AI technology and still have lots of scope for more transformations. Currently, AI technology's penetration rate across these sectors is still low, but we can see AI technology is already playing an increasingly active role in reshaping these industries.

The key to incorporating AI into different industries is to encourage new AI technology startups to differentiate themselves, to really find a niche sector within the AI industry where they can add value.

Differentiation can help AI companies to add new value to existing products and technologies, and to achieve effects that were previously not possible. Without the ability to differentiate, many new AI startups could fail, because the AI sector is a very competitive one.

How can your company tap into China's enthusiasm for AI? Which areas have the biggest potential for your company?

BetR Medical Technology Co Ltd is an AI-powered medical rehabilitation technology startup. We use AI technology to automatically learn rehabilitation techniques from therapists.

To some extent, our AI-powered rehabilitation devices can replace the therapist's role in assisting patients to perform exercises. For patients who suffer from conditions such as stroke or multiple sclerosis, using our AI-powered rehabilitation devices would be cheaper than working with a therapist.

China's exciting AI industry provides great collaboration opportunities to further develop and commercialize our technology. To capture these opportunities, we established a laboratory in Jinan, Shandong province, last year.

Now, we have three Chinese engineers helping us to work on improving our technologies. These Chinese engineers work very closely with our UK team, which is led by myself and two notable professors at the University of Salford.

We feel our China lab is contributing great expertise, technology and insights in helping us make our devices cost-effective and high-quality, allowing us to provide great products and services to end users at affordable prices.

Douglas Merrill,founder and CEO of ZestFinance, a Los Angeles-based big data company, and former Google CIO:

What industries and areas will be profoundly reshaped by AI technology? What is the key to incorporating AI into different industries?

Few, if any, sectors of China's economy will go untouched by AI. But getting to that future situation requires that we know why the robots are coming up with their decisions.

It would be irresponsible to deploy AI in high-stakes industries such as transportation, healthcare and banking without real AI explainability.

It is up to us in the business and tech community to work with regulators to ensure that the AI we create is transparent to the consumer. That is why we have made it our business to build the tools that make complex machine learning models 100 percent explainable.

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