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China Dominates World Artificial Intelligence Conference

Updated: Jan 5

Chinese technology companies dominate the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, highlighting China's ambition to replicate human capabilities through AI development amid geopolitical tensions.

Humanoid robots
Credits: CK Tan

Humanoid robots performed the Thousand-hand Goddess of Mercy dance and flawlessly shot basketballs, while intelligent robot dogs prepared for patrols at the three-day World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai.

China's focus on developing human-like machines coincides with geopolitical tensions with the U.S. and its allies. WAIC 2023 attracted international companies like Microsoft and Tesla, yet it was Chinese technology firms that took center stage during the event.

Baidu, the Chinese search engine provider, introduced its latest AI language model, the Ernie 3.5 Titan version. This upgraded model promises 50% enhanced data analysis performance across various sectors, including finance, healthcare, and the internet.

Developers showcased humanoid robots with embodied AI capabilities, which industry players believe are crucial for the next-stage development of artificial general intelligence (AGI). China aims to lead in this area, as these robots are envisioned to serve as human substitutes in industries such as entertainment, nursing homes, and research labs.

Fourier Intelligence, a Shanghai-based robotics startup supported by Saudi Aramco, unveiled their humanoid robot called GR1. Standing at 1.65 m tall, GR1 can walk at 5 km per hour and perform tasks like picking up a pen. Collaboration with mobile app developers opens up a wide range of applications for this first-generation general robot.

Dataa Robotics, another Shanghai-based startup, displayed its Cloud Ginger humanoids at WAIC. These humanoid robots find applications in healthcare, shopping malls, and research institutions.

China surpassed other countries in annual industrial robot installations in 2021, reflecting their commitment to scientific and technological self-reliance. However, the geopolitical rivalry with the U.S. posed challenges for the industry, leading to reduced foreign exhibitors and executives at the WAIC.

The regulatory crackdown and weakened investor confidence affected tech companies in China, with funding dropping by 46% in 2022. Fourier's GR1 humanoid maker stated they were unaffected by U.S. restrictions as they source chips and parts from Europe, downplaying trade limitations and expressing confidence in future local chip sourcing.

Cnrobopedia's Ni Tao expressed that humanoid robot development is an expensive and challenging business, with only a few large Chinese companies likely to produce substantial models due to significant financial investments required.

Fourier's Gu acknowledged that substantial results may not be immediate but emphasized the potential of humanoid robot technology in the next decade, urging not to underestimate its long-term impact.

  • China showcased humanoid robots and advanced AI at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) 2023 in Shanghai.

  • Chinese technology companies dominated the event, highlighting China's ambition to replicate human capabilities through AI development.

  • Baidu introduced an upgraded AI language model, promising improved data analysis performance across finance, healthcare, and the internet.

Source: Nikkei Asia

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