China wants to emerge in Artificial Intelligence

400Beijing is planning to build a 13.8 billion yuan ($2.12 billion) artificial intelligence development park in the city’s west, the official Xinhua news agency reported, as China pushes ahead to fulfil its ambition to become a world leader in AI by 2025. The AI park will house up to 400 enterprises and have an estimated annual output of 50 billion yuan, Xinhua said, citing a report from authorities in Beijing’s Mentougou district.

Zhongguancun Development Group, the developer of the project, will look to partner with foreign universities and build a “national-level” AI lab in the area, Xinhua added.

Zhongguancun Development and representatives for Beijing’s Mentougou district could not be immediately reached for comment.

China’s plan to fast-track AI development comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and the United States over the competitive applications of AI in military technology.

The country’s burgeoning AI industry has also attracted foreign firms. Last month, Alphabet Inc’s Google announced it would launch a Beijing-based AI research team, targeting local research talent, even though the U.S. firm’s search engine remains blocked behind China’s firewall.

The new AI park will focus on attracting enterprises that work on big-data, biometric identification, deep learning and cloud computing, the Xinhua report said on Wednesday.

China aims to grow the local industry to over 150 billion yuan by 2020 and 400 billion yuan by 2025, according to the State Council.

Talent is undoubtedly a major reason why China’s AI capabilities have drawn much attention from Western countries. U.S. tech conglomerates like Google, Microsoft and Amazon are all hiring entry-level AI engineers (including for algorithm engineering and software development functions) in China at lower salaries compared to the U.S. job market given the exchange rate, according to a 2018 campus recruitment list. The list shows that among those U.S. employers, Google offers the highest base salary of up to 560,000 yuan a year (around $85,000), followed by Microsoft (around $77,000) and Amazon (nearly $47,000 plus stock options). But the most senior AI engineers in China can often demand compensation of $1 million or $2 million, most of which is stock, according to Bloomberg.


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