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Shanghai sees major role for AI technology in the city

China Daily Updated: 2018-12-14


Visitors look at an intelligent robot on display during an industry expo in Shanghai. [Photo by Wang Gang / For China Daily]

Shanghai has rolled out a plan that both solicits applicable artificial intelligence solutions and promotes a suite of indigenous AI technologies, a substantial step toward widespread application of AI in the metropoly.

The city published 10 real-life scenarios on Wednesday, including education, healthcare, transportation and manufacturing, all of which it hopes to upgrade with the aid of AI and seek tangible solutions from AI companies worldwide, according to Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization.

The initiative, together with the introduction of 60 emerging AI technologies from local companies, is part of the latest efforts to drive the city toward its goal of hosting six demonstration zones and 60 AI applications by 2020.

The plan aims to collect global solutions to serve a wide array of application scenarios and accelerate the transformation of new technologies, products and models into productivity and economic drivers, said Zhang Ying, chief engineer of the commission.

"As a strategically future-leading technology, AI is empowering all walks of life by elevating comprehensive productivity," Zhang said at the launch ceremony in Shanghai.

"Shanghai is set to build itself into a smart city of the AI age, with a special focus on high-quality economic growth, the improvement of social benefits, and precise city administration."

For instance, the local authority pins great hopes on AI to modernize sectors such as education, where routine tasks like marking, the tracking of students' behavior and campus security management can be performed by algorithms.

"We not only want to include AI-themed courses such as the introduction of voice-controlled drones and robots, but are looking at using AI-supported systems to raise the overall management efficiency of schools, such as examining to what extent students have absorbed their newly acquired knowledge," said Dong Junwu, principal of Shanghai Shixi High School.

In the smart medical field, Li Jiyu, deputy-director of Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital, detailed a total of eight categories including medical imaging, assistance diagnosis and illness prevention where AI can play a role.

Meanwhile, a list of 60 technologies developed by local companies such as iFlytek and Yitu Technology was launched at the event. The municipal government hopes that more industries can benefit from technologies such as face-recognition, autonomous driving and simultaneous translation to enhance their efficiency and thus boost profitability.

Shanghai plans to build itself into a "national hub" for AI and will sharpen its focus on the sector's basic research, pilot zones, policies and talents to bolster that goal, Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang said at the World AI Conference 2018 in September.

With plans to expand the scale of its industry to more than 100 billion yuan ($14.6 billion) by 2020, the city is on course to set up an AI development fund.

"The mature industrial chain of smart chips, software and hardware services, along with the ability to attract technology talents have equipped Shanghai with an exceptional advantage in AI development," said Pony Ma, chairman of Tencent, whose computer vision research arm YouTu Lab is based in Shanghai.