China’s Big ‘BAT’ Firms Are Helping Country’s AI Scheme For 2030

AI
I.P. Park, president and chief technical officer for LG Electronics, speaks on artificial intelligence during a keynote address at the 2019 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 7, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Steve Marcus)

China's big three, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, collectively called "BAT," are heavily engaged in the country's plan to become the world's leading artificial intelligence (AI) hub by 2030. As part of the scheme, BAT is reportedly dishing out investments in American startups.

According to Engineering, the three Chinese tech giants heavily investing in AI startups in the United States as part of Beijing's scheme to overtake its rivals in the global race for artificial intelligence leadership. American companies are interested in the three Chinese firms because partnerships will allow the former to have a key to the massive Chinese market.

In October, Baidu became the first Chinese company to join an AI alliance spearheaded by the U.S. that aims to control potential risks that the artificial intelligence sector can pose to the corporate world. Baidu has joined Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other American tech firms in the initiative.

Tencent, meanwhile, has been helping build up ObEN's reputation in the AI realm. The Pasadena-based startup is largely backed by China's leading gaming giant. In 2017, ObEN landed a $5 million investment that was initiated by Tencent along with participation from other tech providers.

In September, world-famous investor Kai-Fu Lee said China is "catching up really fast" with the U.S. in dominating AI developments. He cited online commerce as one of the key foundations wherein Chinese firms can capitalize on as they explore artificial intelligence projects.

As if echoing Lee's statements, Alibaba Group mainly focused on online retail but it has since expanded to other tech segments. Multiple outlets reported last year that the company will launch its very own AI chip sometime this year. To help accomplish this plan, the firm established a semiconductor arm that will hasten the process of delivering the highly-anticipated chip.

While China's BAT companies continue to leverage on the future benefits of artificial intelligence, the U.S. has been unclear on its stand in the battle. While U.S. President Donald Trump recently called for enhancing AI research and initiatives, industry analysts pointed out that his scheme may not be enough until American firms unite for the cause.

In a recent report, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence indicated that China has already overtaken the United States in published papers linked with AI projects. The report also suggested that Chinese figures in published papers will most likely grow in the coming years.

Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent are just three of the Chinese tech companies that have heeded the call from Beijing to put the country on top of the AI ladder in 10 years. Analysts believe the Asian nation can achieve this if more startups engage in the process.

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