As U.S. technology giants deal with strict censorship rules in China — and the threat of a trade war — some are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to get into the country’s economy. According to Reuters, Google, Microsoft and Amazon showed off their AI products at a state-backed forum held in Shanghai this week, which comes as China plans to build a $400 billion AI industry by 2025.
On a positive note, China’s government and companies seem willing to work with the U.S.-based firms.
“Hey Google, let’s make humanity great again,” said Tang Xiao’ou, CEO of Chinese AI and facial recognition unicorn SenseTime, in a speech earlier this week.
Amazon and Microsoft both announced they will build new AI research labs in Shanghai, while Google premiered a variety of China-focused AI tools at the event. Liu He, China’s “vice premier and the key negotiator in trade talks with the United States, said his country wanted” to work with others on AI technology.
“As members of a global village, I hope countries can show inclusive understanding and respect for each other, deal with the double-sword technologies can bring and embrace AI challenges together,” he said.
While the country is keen on AI, the government is still wary of the internet. In fact, the Communist Party of China has been regulating the internet and putting in place new cyber rules that require foreign companies to store data locally in the country, and ban VPNs and other tools that are designed to get around firewalls that block citizens from accessing internet sites, including Facebook and Google. Apple is operating in the country, but has agreed to operate under the strict censorship rules.
However, Alibaba‘s Jack Ma noted at the event that innovation needed space to develop, and the government’s shouldn’t get get involved with protecting businesses.
“The government needs to do what the government should do, and companies need to do what they should do,” he said.