context: AI is a major focus of China’s sci-tech ambitions, with State Council issuing plans in July 2017. By February 2018 capital investments and local support were reaching alarming heights. Tsinghua has issued a report to assess China’s position, recommending the state address fraud, layout imbalances and looming overcapacity. The report glosses over lack of talent, another known challenge.

Tsinghua University China Institute of Sci-tech Policy released a report on AI developments, recognising rapid growth and potential, but also challenges. In response, it recommends

  • stepping up R&D in hardware and algorithms, which currently only account for 20 percent market share
  • increasing business R&D and improving synergy with lab-based research
    • corporate-led research and spending are behind public research institutes (Note: a problem across sci-tech spending)
    • home-grown internet giants are far behind in training, paper publications and patents
  • prioritising AI application in energy and power grid sectors
  • promoting international R&D cooperation, as AI tech and markets defy national borders
  • preventing local entities from irrational investments and over-subsidising
  • adding social agendas on
    • morality and ethics
    • data security
    • labour and employment
    • training and education

The report highlights

  • R&D
    • 27.68 percent of academic papers worldwide, and leading in highly cited papers
      • Chinese Academy of Sciences leads worldwide with 26,176 AI-related papers
    • most AI patents in the world
      • only three firms in the world have more patents in AI than State Grid, which has 3,794, mostly in grid control, power distribution, smart converters, wind farms and new energy
  • commercialisation
    • domestic AI industry reached 23.7 bn in 2017, led by
      • image analysis
      • voice recognition
      • natural language processing
    • 1,011 registered AI enterprises, second only to the US, which has 2,028 companies
      • Beijing leads globally with 395 AI companies, ahead of San Francisco (287), London (274) and Shanghai (210)
    • 60 percent of global investments are in China
      • US$27.71 bn investment in 2017, 70 percent of the global total
      • 367 investment cases, 31 percent of the global total