China’s Top Tech Entrepreneurs Gather at the 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference

The 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) opened its doors in Shanghai on September 17. The three-day conference welcomed speakers such as Alibaba‘s Jack Ma, Tencent‘s Pony Ma, and Xiaomi‘s Lei Jun on its opening day.

The inaugural 2018 WAIC is jointly organized by seven governmental and academic bodies. They include the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Shanghai Municipal Government.

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Following the theme “AI Empowered New Era”, the conference set out to implement calls from the 19th National Congress to “deeply integrate Internet, Big Data, artificial intelligence and the real economy”, and to build a world-class AI cooperation and exchange platform to promote and lead the development of the industry.

About 133 companies across all fields of technology from both China and abroad are exhibiting at the conference. On top of the well-known Internet giants, the exhibition also included top Chinese AI startups such as SenseTime, Face++, and Yitu, as well as newly listed companies like NIO and Ping An Good Doctor. Presence of other international giants included Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and SAP.

The conference is comprised of a main forum which takes place on the first day, followed by dozens of sub-forums, themed talks, and workshops that spanned the rest of the conference. The main forum showcased an A-list lineup with celebrity entrepreneurs such as Jack Ma of Alibaba, Pony Ma of Tencent, Robin Li of Baidu, and Lei Jun of Xiaomi speaking on the topic of AI.

Jack Ma, executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, said in his speech that the Internet is only benefiting 20 percent of the total world population, but the technology from the data technology and AI era will benefit 80 percent of the people, and that is where the opportunities lie.

Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, talked about the four principles of building an AI company culture. Those four principles are as follows: first, AI must be safe and controlled; second, AI must promote equality in technical acquisition; third, AI should help humans learn and grow but not replace them; last but not least, AI should bring more freedom and possibilities for the human race.

Swami Sivasubramanian, the vice president of Amazon AI, announced the establishment of an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Artificial Intelligence Research Center in Shanghai. The AWS research center will be integrated into AWS’s global R&D plan and work with top Chinese universities and research facilities to nurture the next generation of AI talent for China.

Over 30 different talks and workshops will follow over the next few days throughout the West Bund area of Shanghai.