context: MIIT released plans that flesh out July 2017 State Council calls for a globally competitive AI industry. Experts believe the benefits of AI will outweigh risks of unemployment and other disruptive effects.

Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s (MIIT) ‘Next generation AI 3-year development plan (2018-20)’ finishes a top year for artificial intelligence (AI) and raises expectations for 2018, reports Xinhua. The plan promotes cooperation between government, enterprises, industry associations and think tanks, and supports AI innovation, entrepreneurship and talent cultivation with fiscal, financial and other preferential policies. AI laws, institutions and regulations are forthcoming, says the plan, emphasising these will not disrupt market mechanisms. AI will lead to sustained growth of productivity in the services industry, argues Tan Hongbo 谭洪波, an economist from University of Yangzhou. Tan notes that this upsets a dogma of economic theory called Baumol’s cost disease, which dictates that labour cost in the service industry tends to rise faster than productivity growth warrants due to competition over human resources with faster growing industries. AI needs to go beyond new products to transform daily life, add Shen Xiaowei 沈晓卫 IBM China Research Laboratory (CRL) director. Next to improving computing power and AI-IT interaction, China should use AI for problems thought to be out of reach, including environmental protection, universal education, affordable healthcare, finance and manufacturing upgrading, adds Shen. MIIT’s plan echoes this ambition, prioritising

  • smart products
    • connected vehicles
    • service robots
    • unmanned aircraft and drones
    • medical imaging devices
    • biometric facial identification
    • voice interaction system
    • home appliances
  • software
    • sensors
    • neural networks and chips
    • open source and open platforms
  • manufacturing areas
    • technologies, devices and machine tools
    • smart workshops, assembly lines and integrated production systems
  • associated sectors in the industrial chain
    • integrated information databases for talent and professional training
    • intellectual property service platforms and standard testing and certification centres
    • internet infrastructure, 5G and broadband service
    • information security and cybersecurity platforms