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China's Tech Sector Focuses on AI Race with US Titans like Google and Microsoft

China's Tech Sector Focuses on AI Race with US Titans like Google and Microsoft

China's tech sector is focusing on competing with US titans like Google and Microsoft in the global artificial intelligence race.
Billionaire entrepreneurs, mid-level engineers, and veterans of foreign firms are all aiming to outdo China's geopolitical rival in a technology that could determine global power stakes.

Chinese scientists, programmers, and financiers are expected to propel $15 billion of spending on AI technology this year.

Wang Xiaochuan, founder of the search engine Sogou, has set up his own startup and secured $50 million in seed capital.

His firm has launched an open-source large language model and it's already in use by researchers at China's two most prominent universities.

China is three years behind the US in AI but may not need three years to catch up.

The top-flight Chinese talent and financing flowing into AI mirrors a wave of activity convulsing Silicon Valley, which has deep implications for Beijing's conflict with Washington.

AI could shape the technology leaders of the future and propel applications from supercomputing to military prowess, potentially tilting the geopolitical balance.

China is reigned in by US tech sanctions, regulators' data and censorship demands, and Western distrust that limits the international expansion of its national champions.

China's AI industry is rapidly growing and is expected to play a significant role in maintaining the country's ascendancy.

In 2022 and early 2023, China-based AI venture deals outpaced those in the consumer technology sector, according to Preqin.

The Chinese government is likely to mobilize the nation's resources to drive advances in AI, similar to how it did with semiconductors.

Local firms are likely to thrive in the AI industry due to the absence of US tech giants, just as they did in the mobile era.

AI models could eventually provide the infrastructure for new platforms and revolutionary apps for businesses and consumers, similar to how smartphone operating systems Android and iOS provided the infrastructure for Tencent, ByteDance, and Ant Group Co. to break new ground in social media, video, and payments.

There is a potential gold mine for an industry just emerging from the trauma of Xi's two-year internet crackdown, which starved tech companies of the heady growth of years past.

The resolve to catch up with OpenAI is apparent, with incumbents and big names in the industry joining the race.

The field is open in a consumer market ringfenced to themselves, which also happens to be the world's largest internet arena.

The article discusses the challenges faced by Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) companies in comparison to their US counterparts.

It highlights that censorship in China affects the quality of datasets used by AI companies and that Beijing's regulations on generative AI will put China's AI applications at a disadvantage.

Additionally, powerful chip sets from companies like Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices are crucial for training large AI models, but Washington bars these from the country.

Despite these challenges, Chinese companies such as Baidu and iFlytek are working to match and surpass the US in AI.

Some companies are employing a hybrid approach, using fewer GPUs for model training and then deploying domestic cloud services for inference.

Others argue that innovation cannot be bought and that investors should be willing to invest in the longer-term and dream big.

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