China’s AI industry achieves fruitful outcomes

By Xie Weiqun, Shen Wenmin, Huang Xiaohui, People’s Daily

The World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) 2023 was held in Shanghai from July 6 to 8. 

The event, joined by more than 1,400 guests and 400 exhibitors, covered an exhibition area of over 50,000 square meters. It hosted 133 themed forums, attracting over 177,000 in-person visits—all of the above hit record highs.

The event was a magnet attracting investment and businesses. During the 2023 WAIC, 210 firms reached a total intended purchase amount of 11 billion yuan ($1.52 billion), and 32 major projects were signed with a total investment of 28.8 billion yuan.

The scale of China’s core artificial intelligence (AI) industry has exceeded 500 billion yuan, with the number of AI enterprises exceeding 4,300. Intelligent chips, AI development frameworks, and other innovations keep emerging. 

The application scenarios of AI are seen everywhere, from people’s daily life to enterprises’ production, sales, services, and administration.

“Our equipment is designed for those with lower limb disorders in their early functional training,” said a staff member of an exhibitor who brought a lower limb rehabilitation robot to the 2023 WAIC.

The staff member said that the robot provides users with correct sensory input and helps prevent the development of abnormal gaits through rhythmic stimulation, vertical DOF (degree of freedom), and ground-walking assistance. The robot has been applied at many rehabilitation centers across China.

Autonomous driving vehicles were a highlight of the event. On July 8, 15 uncrewed vehicles manufactured by three enterprises obtained the first batch of road test licenses for uncrewed intelligent connected vehicles issued by Shanghai’s Pudong New Area. 

As relevant regulations are enacted, autonomous driving in Pudong New Area is about to embrace an “unmanned era.”

According to a report issued by the 2023 WAIC, China has witnessed prospering development of its AI industry, accelerating relevant infrastructure construction and in-depth integration with other sectors over recent years.

Statistics released at the conference showed that China’s computing power ranks second globally. Thanks to the profound integration of AI and the manufacturing sector, more than 2,500 digital workshops and smart factories have been built nationwide, which forcefully drives the digital, intelligent, and green transition of the real economy.

The application of AI-assisted scenarios is leading to rapid data growth. Computing power, as a critical productive force in the era of the digital economy, will empower all industries.

The State Information Center of China said that 80 percent of scenarios will rely on AI in the future. How to build a solid foundation of computing power and making it an essential resource of AI development is a crucial factor driving the development of industrial ecology and promoting sci-tech innovation.

According to preliminary estimation, the revenue of China’s AI computing core industry will hit 4.4 trillion yuan by 2025, with related sectors up to 24 trillion yuan. 

Future development of computing power will feature inclusiveness and intelligence, said a report released at the 2023 WAIC. It noted that computing power would forcefully drive the integration, sharing, development, and application of data collected from different levels, regions, and departments, thus vitalizing data assets.

AI insiders and more than 80 renowned scholars held in-depth discussions on technology, industry, and humanities, focusing on intelligent chips, scientific intelligence, robotics, brain-like intelligence, autonomous driving, the rule of law, security, and other frontier research areas.

Insiders believe that as the AI industry keeps developing, enterprises can boost industrial development and lead high-quality AI development with solid computing power through systematic innovation and open source.

As of the end of last year, the number of data center racks in use topped 6.5 million in China. Besides, the country was twice faster than the global average in terms of computing power improvement.

A participant in the 2023 WAIC told People’s Daily that the paradigm shift in AI technology leads to strong demands for intelligent computing, and the diverse reforms of computing systems are bringing new development opportunities.

Given the structural gap in the supply of computing power, the AI industry is currently in a window period for deploying computing power, the participant said, adding that it is essential to make computing power inclusive during the transition from extensive deployment to detailed planning, realizing synergy and integration.

The participant added that China’s independent computing enterprises will achieve faster and better development with the help of intelligent computing centers.

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