It is unfortunately that the myth about China not having the ability to pull its weight when it comes to hi-tech is still being perpetuated. While this has been true while China was playing technological catch-up with the rest of the world, it is no longer the case.
At this point and beyond, there is more than enough in terms of capital and infrastructure for China to be a dominant player in cutting-edge industries as well and Artificial Intelligence does not represent an exception.
Without further ado, the following companies represent the most well-known players in China as far as the AI space is concerned:
- Ping An Technology – one of China’s leading insurance companies, believe it or not, a company investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence and using it when it comes to both industry-specific projects (using image recognition technology to assess the damage that has been done to a car after an accident) and applications such as medicine (using image recognition to interpret X-rays), customer support (assessing the customer’s mood), music and so on
- DEEPHi, creating hardware and microchips for AI, receiving funding from both important players in China (Alibaba Group’s financial entity, ANT FINANCIAL) and international companies (Samsung). While software providers tend to steal the thunder from hardware companies when it comes to reputation, it is worth noting that without the hardware infrastructure to make it all possible, the various applications that become smashing hits would be nothing more than business models written on a piece of paper
- CloudWalk, which started out by providing technological solutions for border control based on image recognition and ventured into other spaces as well, including supplying technologies to the banking sector, for smart homes and so on. Among other things, CloudWalk also represents the first African AI project that is China-centered
- Face++, which managed to beat huge entities including Google, Microsoft and Facebook in international competitions and has users in over 200 countries. They are respected for their ability to use facial recognition in the security field but are venturing into other territories as well, such as video recognition, IOT and robotics. As far as robotics is concerned, Face++ has been buying robotics companies and is currently working on projects for Foxconn, the company famous for making Apple products.
- SenseTime – the most valuable AI startup worldwide, receiving $1 billion of VC funding in September 2018 and raising its value to $6 billion. It was founded by a prominent University of Hong-Kong scientist and has done well due to its talent and ability to retain talent (an issue that is still problematic in China). It supplies products to hundreds of entities, from auto companies, banking industry players to robotics-related ventures and the list could go on and on
After drawing the line, while it’s important to acknowledge that there are still problems when it comes to Chinese hi-tech projects (such as the difficulties in retaining ultra high-end talent, which is obviously being courted intensively by players in the United States and other rich nations), words cannot even begin to describe the progress that has been made with respects to China’s ability to reach parity with the world’s most developed countries.