China's AI market optimistic despite Western scrutiny – Technology

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China's AI sector demonstrated confidence in its ability to overcome Western restrictions at a major trade fair in Shanghai this week, with companies unveiling cutting-edge products developed by a growing number of young talent.

The country's AI generation industry has exploded, with China in recent years becoming the world's No. 1 country in terms of patent applications for AI software that creates everything from illustrations to computer code, according to a United Nations report.

At the World AI Conference in Shanghai on Thursday, exhibitors were eager to show off their generative AI products, with one booth displaying realistic “watercolor paintings” and sci-fi-themed illustrations created with the software.

Meanwhile, a group of humanoid robots developed by more than a dozen Chinese groups performed in front of visitors, all raising their hands and waving in unison.

Ethan Duan, an employee at a startup incubator, said China would ultimately be able to benefit from its vast tech talent even if Western regulations weaken domestic companies.

“If access to the (OpenAI) API were suddenly cut off, it would definitely be a challenge for many companies now, but it remains to be seen whether that will be a challenge a year or two from now,” Duan said. AFP.

Duan's hopes are backed up by statistics showing that China has expanded its domestic AI talent pool in recent years to meet the demands of its growing industry.

Nearly half (47%) of the world's top AI researchers will be in China in 2022, up from 29% in 2019, according to a global AI tracker by MacroPolo, a Chicago-based think tank at the Paulson Institute.

Western measures

The mood in Shanghai was upbeat amid growing suspicion and restrictive measures targeted at China's AI industry from the United States and other countries.

OpenAI, the US company behind ChatGPT, has accused China of using its language model to create content aimed at influencing sentiment on social media.

The company plans to stop providing app programming services to Chinese developers next week.

Meanwhile, the US government has revoked export licenses for certain US-made chips used by Chinese smartphone maker Huawei after the company unveiled a new computer using Intel's AI-enabled chips.

China's critics say its AI could be used for espionage.

“It doesn't have much of an impact.”

Interest in AI products appeared to be on the rise at the Shanghai trade show, with enthusiastic visitors lining up in the exhibition hall to try out games and interactive exhibits.

Shi Yunlei, founder and CEO of a maker of AI-powered fitness equipment, said at a previous industry trade show that visitors had already started asking to buy the exercise machines, even though the products are not yet in mass production.

“China's robotics industry is still very booming and everyone is working hard to find a stable direction,” Shi said. AFP.

“We are excited to be working with OpenCSG,” said Liu Meixiu, president of software company OpenCSG. AFP Her company said it has “not been significantly affected” by the U.S. restrictions and is expanding its operations overseas.

“U.S. technology may be more advanced than ours right now, but China is also very strong,” Liu said.

“I think in the future the gap will continue to close, or we may continue to overtake,” she said. AFP.

Opening the conference on Thursday, a speech by Li Qiang, China's second-highest ranking official after President Xi Jinping, highlighted the country's commitment to AI technology.

Premier Li called on countries around the world to adopt a “more open mindset” on AI and promote “cross-border data movement, free trade in equipment and infrastructure connectivity.”

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