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Excerpts from State Council policy briefing on July 21

Updated: Jul 21,2017 7:42 PM

The State Council policy briefing on July 21 focused on a recent guideline on artificial intelligence (AI) development.

The State Council Information Office invited three officials from the Ministry of Science and Technology — Vice Minister Li Meng, Director General of the Department of Innovation and Development Xu Jing and Director General of the Department of High-tech Development and Industrialization Qin Yong — to the policy briefing to elaborate on this issue.

Li Meng said the guideline puts forward the goal and tasks for AI development by 2030. The major goal is broken into three stages: catch up with the advanced global levels in AI technology and application by 2020, make major breakthroughs in basic theories by 2025, and become a global innovation center in this field by 2030.

The main tasks are to set up an open and coordinated AI innovation system, cultivate a smart economy and society, integrate AI with national defense, establish smart infrastructure, and carry out major sci-tech projects in the sector.

China is among the world leaders in AI development, Li said. China is leading the globe in AI patents and papers, automatic speech recognition, machine vision and machine translation, and is dynamic in AI innovation and entrepreneurship. In recent years, some Chinese enterprises have emerged and been acknowledged by the international community.

However, weakness and problems in research and development, human resources and the industrial ecosystem cannot be ignored, Li said.

The plan aims to develop a new generation of AI, enabled by big data technology to utilize a brain-like mechanism, Li said.

The new generation of AI would become part of daily life, improving human intelligence, such as cross-media coordination, unmanned systems, big data intelligence and swarm intelligence. Related science research and technological innovation is accelerating the formation of a smart society and economy.

AI has already been incorporated into many aspects of people’s lives, according to Li. For example, smart home appliances, factories and workshops are developing rapidly.

“The intelligent economy that the plan is keen to promote includes high-end and highly efficient industries which can be divided into three aspects,” Li said. The first one is emerging AI industries, such as pattern recognition, facial recognition, intelligent robots and intelligent vehicles, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The second is the traditional industries transformed by AI, including the intelligent manufacturing, agriculture and logistics. The third is intelligent enterprises that are equipped with intelligent manufacturing facilities.

The development of AI cannot only make people’s lives more convenient, but also improve public administration.

China will also draw on experience from other countries and recruit overseas talents. Leading foreign companies in AI are also welcome to expand cooperation with Chinese enterprises to achieve mutual benefits, Li added.

The plan highlights the importance of mastering the core technology.

Several AI projects with cutting-edge technologies have been designed, and other new areas related to AI are also included in the plan, such as big data, cloud computing, quantum computing, and brain science.

The implementation of AI projects will follow the rules of the market. The government will be in charge of major projects, while others will be taken over by enterprises. Social capital, such as venture capital, can also be brought in, Li said.