Commercialization of artificial intelligence in China is gaining increasingly powerful momentum, pushing the country further in this field on the global stage.
AI has been widely adopted in such fields as healthcare, manufacturing, transport, speech recognition and financial services, aiming to improve efficiency, customer services and cost-performance.
It is expected that, with the growing demand for chipsets in domestic market, which is partly driven by AI advancements, revenues from semiconductor manufactured in the country can grow to about $110 billion in 2019, according to an annual industry preview released by Deloitte Global on Tuesday January 8.
China is now better positioned than ever before to be a competitive player in the global race of both AI and semiconductors, as it is believed that weaning the industry off external dependence and strengthening self-supply is very important for their future.
For instance, China’s tech trio BAT, namely Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, hold stakes in more than 62 of unicorn startups in the country, including the world’s most valuable pure-play AI enterprise, SenseTime. Founded in 2014, the startup focuses on innovative computer vision and deep learning technologies and has developed into a unicorn in just a little more than three years’ time.
Fueled by big domestic demand and technological strengths of domestic tech giants, a domestic chip foundry is said to have started manufacturing semiconductors that will find specialized application in AI and machine learning.
These players are investing handsomely in talents and technology to hone onshore manufacturing capabilities equaling that of world’s leading foundries.
Beijing-based Horizon Robotics, its founder being former head of Institute of Deep Learning at Baidu, can supply embedded chips for machine vision and is cooperating with major auto brands to apply machine vision in edge processing.
Cambricon, another famed local chip manufacturer, has a series of chips specifically used to support machine learning, and it has contributed to telecommunications giant Huawei’s Kirin smartphone chipset.
China has massive troves of data generated in various scenarios due to its huge size of population, which is helpful to improve the accuracy and precision of algorithms, thus boosting the R&D of AI chips. Given that, AI is likely to play a role of springboard for the long-term development of China’s semiconductor industry.
China’s internet giants are enjoying an edge to bear the ever-increasing marginal costs to secure new customers, as they have the largest command of consumer database.
It is forecast that, the driving forces of AI advancements will realize a growth rate of 5 to 6 percent for the global semiconductor industry in the next two decades, said Morris Chang, founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.