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China’s Tech Giants Invest More on AI than Silicon Valley

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no doubt taking the world by storm. As such, there is an impending technological revolution, which has triggered fierce competition between nations and companies across the globe.

Well aware of the potential that this technology has, entities and nations are trying to take the lead in the AI race as far as investing and coming up with revolutionary technologies

According to new research for The Daily Telegraph, the largest technology companies in China have surpassed their Silicon Valley counterparts in the fierce race to invest in both machine learning and artificial intelligence in 2018.

In fact, out of about $14 billion or £10.6 billion worth of artificial intelligence (AI) investments made by the largest eight Chinese and US technology companies this year.

Tencent, Ant Financial, Alibaba and Baidu are some of the Chinese firms with a clear lead as far as this technology is concerned.

According to the information gathered by the financial data firm Pitchbook, all four large Chinese entities have invested a whopping $12.8 billion.

On the other hand, four of the leading US-based technology firms including Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google have been involved in artificial intelligence (AI) deals amounting to $1.7 billion.

Tencent owns Fortnite developer Epic Games and shares in Tesla. Since the beginning of 2017, the company has taken part in deals totaling $10.5 billion.

Alphabet, which is Google’s parent company, has demonstrated the largest activity from Silicon Valley. However, it is still far behind Tencent with participation in $1.6 billion AI investment deals.

China’s increased interest in artificial intelligence (AI) is an indication of Beijing’s growing focus, particularly on high technology.

Back in 2016, Tencent introduced artificial intelligence (AI) research laboratory with a vision of “Make AI Everywhere”. Some of the main focus areas for the company include natural language processing (NLP) and speech recognition.

Furthermore, most of the technologies have been incorporated into Tencent ’s services like WeChat, which is payments and social media applications with over a billion monthly active users.

China’s artificial intelligence (AI) advances have been closely connected to the creation of facial recognition technology applied in various areas around China such as Xinjiang, which is situated in the northwestern part of the nation. The area is home to the minority Uighur group.

Jack Ma, popularly known for being the founder of Alibaba, led a financing round back in April. Facial recognition experts managed to raise $600 million. China’s progress with artificial intelligence (AI) is owed to the ease of access, particularly to citizens’ data.

James Crabtree, an associate professor of practice at Singapore-based Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said: “The great advantage that these Chinese tech companies have in their home market is their ability to bring different pots of data together much greater than in the West because privacy requirements are lower so they are simply able to. People are obsessed with Chinese facial recognition technology but the reason why it is so good is partly to do with innovation, but partly to do with being able to bring together the databases you need much more easily.”

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KC Cheung
KC Cheung has over 18 years experience in the technology industry including media, payments, and software and has a keen interest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and its applications in business. Over the years he has worked with some of the leading technology companies, building and growing dynamic teams in a fast moving international environment.
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