AI technologies become part of everyday life in China

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Artificial intelligence, or AI, provides machines with human-like cognitive abilities that enable them to solve complex problems.

The world's technology giants have started to carve out their own priorities for AI development and have started fiercely competing in this new market.

In China, AI technologies that not long ago would have looked like science fiction are becoming part of everyday life, as well as a major force for economic growth.

AI technology is developing rapidly in China. From small startups to Internet giants, an increasing number of tech firms are gearing up for big successes in the field.

In a logistics center in Guangdong belonging to, one of China's biggest online retailers, 300 robots work non-stop on a 12 hundred square meter platform sorting parcels for delivery.

These robots run automatically, transferring goods from storage shelves to packing areas.

Yang Shaopeng, a staff member working at the center, says the robots can sort up to 12 thousand parcels per hour, which is four times faster than human sorters.

"We have a control center behind all the robots. And there are QR codes on the ground. By reading these codes, robots can know their specific location. Meanwhile the controlling system can give orders to robots to tell them which path they should go next," Yang said.

As AI technology continues to mature, more and more industries are going through an automation revolution.

Cloud computing, big data, and the Internet of Things have been thriving, with new products and services constantly springing up.

Accenture is a world leading global provider of information technology consulting services.

Chen Xiaobing, the president of Accenture China, says he is very optimistic about AI development in China.

"Accenture lately released a report on how AI will boost Chinese economic growth in the future. It's estimated that in 2035 AI will generate 7 trillion dollars for Chinese economy. In the research of the past 20 years we discovered that the advantage brought by adequate labor supply and the market capacity for traditional investment are fading, while AI, which combines real economy with labor as well as capital is growing. This method of development will surge in the next few years," Chen said.

YITU is a Chinese tech firm focused on AI research and development.

At its headquarters, staff don't need to clock in and out, as the company developed facial recognition scanners to automatically record their arrival and departure times.

Facial recognition technology like this is being used in service industries including security, medicine, and banking.

For example, in Shanghai, facial recognition technology has enabled people to withdraw money from an ATM just by showing up in front of the machines.

Sha Yang is a department director at YITU Tech.

"To some extent we are changing these industries. I believe with the universal utilization of AI technology, more changes will be seen in different industries," Sha said.

In addition to achievements in AI software, Chinese AI research teams have also made breakthroughs in new hardware.

Last November, a Shenzhen based tech company launched three new AI chips.

Similar to the famous Alfa Go, the chips are able to develop learning capabilities in such areas as smart driving, language processing, and image and voice recognition.

Chen Tianshi is the chief executive of the company.

"I always compare the traditional processor to a Swiss Army Knife. It can do a lot of different things but is not good at one particular thing. Therefore what we do is give AI ability in a special area and let it solve special problems," Chen said.

China's government wants its homegrown AI businesses to be ready to take on global rivals by the year 2020.

A government document released in December calls for expanding basic research and the application of AI technology in areas ranging from smart automobiles to robots and drones.

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