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August 31, 2017

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Shanghai will be at the heart of China’s artificial intelligence

SHANGHAI is to be at the forefront of artificial intelligence in China.

AI will mean a more convenient lifestyle for residents, easier and safer working practices, and improved profits for business, according to experts in artificial intelligence.

The city will establish a regional center for AI and industrial structures, as well as a special AI fund and attract top AI firms into Shanghai, government and industry officials said yesterday.

Several AI industrial zones will be built in Xuhui and Pudong, and together they will become a “highland” for China’s AI development, the city’s vice mayor Zhou Bo said. A batch of smaller industrial parks concentrating on Big Data, cloud computing, self-driving cars and robots will be developed in Jing’an, Yangpu, Jiading and Baoshan districts, Zhou told the 2017 Global (Shanghai) Artificial Intelligence Innovation Summit.

The major advantage for Shanghai is data, AI’s most important ingredient, he added. The city had established several major information databases with over 300 million pieces of information on about 25 million local people and 1.8 million local companies.

Moreover, nearly a third of the nation’s AI professionals have been based in Shanghai, Zhou said.

Xuhui District will build a West Bund “Intelligence Valley” covering a million square meters along Huangpu River for AI industries, said Fang Shizhong, the district director.

A 200-meter-tall landmark building, the AI Tower, has already been completed on Longyao Road to become a global AI development and exhibition center. Multinational headquarters of AI companies will be based in the building.

“Xuhui government will offer tailored preferential policies for each AI company that wants to develop in the district,” Fang added. These policies would include housing subsidies for professionals, high quality education for their children and cheaper office leasing for startups.

“We hope more AI unicorns will come or be born in Xuhui,” the district director said. “Unicorn” refers to startups valued at more than US$1 billion.

Xuhui was named after Xu Guangqi, a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) scientist and official who pioneered a series of scientific innovations in the area. Fang said the district is expected to become a pioneering site again, this time for AI.

Construction has also started on a 1-million-square-meter AI town in the Beiyang area of the district, which will feature AI technologies such as self-driving cars, facial recognition and intelligent housekeeping.

Apart from Xuhui, AI development zones have also been planned in the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park and Lingang area in Pudong, according to the city government’s plan.

Some new AI technologies were showcased on the sideline of the summit yesterday. An intelligent kitchen, for instance, can wash vegetables, emit an alarm if there is a gas leakage and control temperatures to keep food fresh.

Executives from Microsoft, Tencent, Baidu, startups and top AI researchers made speeches at the summit.

“Shanghai has its unique advantages on AI covering international talent, advanced information structures and finance conditions,” said Xu Li, co-founder of AI firm SenseTime.

The value of the country’s core AI industries will exceed 150 billion yuan (US$22.15 billion) by 2020 and 400 billion yuan by 2025, the State Council predicted last month.


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