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Guidelines for Development of New Generation of Artificial Intelligence

Dec 14, 2017

The Shanghai Municipal Government’s Information Office held a press conference on November 14 on the guidelines for the development of a new generation of artificial intelligence. Following are the highlights:

Chen Mingbo, director, Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology

Zhang Ying, chief engineer, Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology

Ma Xingfa, deputy director, Shanghai Science and Technology Commission

Qiu Wenjin, deputy inspector, Shanghai Development and Reform Commission

China National Radio: There’s no Internet BAT in Shanghai. But now with ‘the Guidelines’, we can nurture more unicorn companies in the AI era. What are the specific advantages of Shanghai compared to Hangzhou and Shenzhen?

Chen Mingbo: Currently, all provinces and municipalities across the country are efficiently promoting the development of the AI industry. For example, Zhongguancun and Shenzhen have already launched relevant supporting policies. We need to imbibe and learn from the good experience and practices of other cities in attracting investment or venture capital. In my opinion, the key to development of AI lies in data sharing, ecology, investment and financing. In general, Shanghai has the following advantages:

The first advantage pertains to the application of AI. Shanghai is exploring the opening of government data at all levels. The total amount of open government data will top the whole country. Besides, Shanghai has a good industrial foundation. The city has the country’s best automatic and intelligent technologies. An ecological environment for AI development has been created under the guidance of the government, which brings great opportunities for AI application.

Besides, Shanghai has laid a good foundation for scientific research. The city has rich talent resources and a large number of scientific research institutes. According to statistics from a third-party institute, Shanghai has one thirds of all professional AI workers around the country. The Zhangjiang area in Pudong is a hub of AI talents.

Unicorn companies in Shanghai have continued to develop, with about 10 of them now being influential in the city. However, the question whether these companies will still exist three years later is the key to policy making. In the past, Shanghai's unicorn companies were usually acquired by other enterprises after they had developed to a certain level. That’s why I said we should learn from Zhongguancun. The development of the AI industry needs the power of the whole city.

The drive to develop AI is being propelled by both the city’s advantages and the urgency to transform and develop.

Shanghai Securities News: I have two questions. Do we have corresponding policies for local talents? The second question is about the industrial fund. Will there be a city-level fund for artificial intelligence and how large will it be in scale?

Chen Mingbo: Han Zheng once said that Shanghai is like a plateau of talents. Many governmental sectors are considering this, but our policies for AI talents will follow the general talent policies of the city. All over the world AI talents are popular, so we will issue specific policies for them, too. Some of the terms would apply to general talents and some for AI talents only. This is (in answer) to the first question.

As for the second, we have not reached a final decision yet. But there are many professional funds already in Shanghai. The point is there should be a professional team. We are selecting, too. It can be hard for the government to run a fund, so we would like the market to operate it. This has been included in ‘the Guidelines’. The government will invest a part in it. We are still doing the selecting. We will start this fund, even though there are already many angel investments. Shanghai will start a special fund for AI.

Shanghai Radio: The 19th CPC National Congress called for deep integration of artificial intelligence and the real economy. What specific measures will the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology take in this area?

Chen Mingbo: This is a big question. The report of 19th CPC National Congress suggests that we must put focus on the development of the real economy. The real economy should be developed in coordination with scientific and technological innovation, modern finance and human resources. In the middle of the year, we launched the “50 Measures for Real Economy” and achieved good results as the city’s industrial added value increased by 9.5 percent in the first three quarters. With the support of the AI industry, our high-end service industry received a big boost. The production and operation efficiency of the real economy has also improved through AI technology. Besides, AI-related chips, software, algorithms and hardware are also important parts of the real economy.

Securities Times: I have two questions. The first is for the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission. We know that scientific and technological innovations have been stressed in the national planning for AI and ‘the Guidelines’ in Shanghai, while Shanghai has an early layout for brain science and brain-inspired intelligence. How is that project coming along? What has been built already and what are the project’s strengths? What are the measures for innovation system and talent cultivation for AI in the future? The second question is for the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology. The key to AI will be data. You mentioned that there might be cooperation with Alibaba. So, next will you look into cooperation with other BAT companies?

Ma Xingfa: I will talk about the first two questions.

China has stressed the notion of a “new generation” in AI development, which would be better described as having more humanized and smarter products than the traditional ones. To realize such a goal, there have to be innovative breakthroughs in theory as well as in cutting-edge technologies and we should enhance research and development for key technologies and the products themselves.

The scientific and technological innovation is the key to AL development. Therefore the fundamental research and core components have to be stressed for the next generation of AI development. Shanghai has been doing relevant work for a few years now and has made plans. Since 2014 we have conducted many surveys and in 2015 we learned about the theories, the algorithms of brain-inspired intelligence, the chips, the man-machine interaction and smart computing models. The commission has organized several colleges and scientific research units to crank up on research issues and we have made some progress. Now we are communicating with the national program on 2030 brain science and brain-inspired intelligence research. Plans are being made and we hope to settle this program in Shanghai.

Shanghai has laid the foundation for fundamental disciplines and leading talents. We have the strength, apart from the industrial application and equipment. They include neurobiology, neurosurgery, microelectronics and computer software science. They are among the key national disciplines. There are especially powerful teams on neurological basis, intelligence algorithm, brain function, precise diagnosis and treatment and smart manufacturing. We have leading talents in the field and a bunch of national-level R&D institutions and centers.

For fundamental research, Shanghai has made progress in dynamic human brain atlas, the recording of neutral motions on a large scale and theoretical aspects. As to the development of brain-inspired chips, they are still learning-oriented. We still need to think about how to solve the problems and integrate them with the cranial nerve.

These are the measures for the next step:

First we will strengthen the work to build the innovation system. The difficulties for mastering advanced technologies need to be overcome. The competition in AI will be fierce and there are key tasks to focus on. Shanghai has some advantages and has made certain achievements in the matter. For example, many people visit hospitals in Shanghai and generate a large amount of data, which is perhaps not so common in other countries. We will get to know better the information system in the brain as well as the principles for neural coding. AI and brain-inspired application can be realized through technology.

Second, we will further tackle key technical research, including core AI technologies like perceptual recognition, knowledge calculation, deduction and motion execution. We will need to constantly support the enterprises and colleges in the long run in the matter. We will spare no effort in promoting enterprise-oriented cooperation with the academic sector.

Third, we will build a batch of functional platforms to solve common problems with common technologies, under the principle of governmental guidance, industrial involvement and market management. The platforms under preparation include those on smart manufacturing and industrial Internet.

Fourth, we will emphasize the application of the outcome. We have a great market in Shanghai, including precise medicine, smart auto, unmanned drones and service robots. We will promote a demand-oriented human-machine interaction based on Shanghai’s characteristics.

In cultivating talents, first we will continue to introduce and raise high-end talents. We have been discussing with relevant sectors plans to attract global talents in varied fields. Second, we will also strengthen the work to bring up young scientific and technological talents, like our ‘sailing project’ in the commission, which supports young researchers under 32 years of age. Brain science will be a constant focus for us and there will be no limit on the number selected so more young experts can team up to solve actual problems. By communicating with experienced experts they will learn fast. We encourage young scientific talents to innovate and strengthen our AI force.

We would like the media to keep a close eye on us and advise us in our subsequent work.

Zhang Ying: It has been mentioned that big data is a core issue in developing a new generation of AI. The phrase big data is used in ‘the Guidelines’. Shanghai, as a national comprehensive pilot zone for big data, will endeavor to share the data resources and coordinate with relevant applications. The following will be the focus:

First we will push to open data in key areas and provide plenty of data resources and situations for AI development. Shanghai has formed the longest open data, with more than 1,500 items. Next there will be a hierarchy for data sharing, rules for applying for the administrative data for public use and the emergency mechanism for sharing the public data. With these measures we can push forward the management and use of data and their protection and draft standards and norms. Meanwhile, we encourage more enterprises to share data and cooperate.

Second, the governmental sectors will share more data with the public. In fact, there is a large amount of data stored in these units. How to release the data is a public and a government concern. Combined with the construction of the administrative affairs cloud, we have made the data more accessible to the public. A uniform administrative data resource management platform that meets the need for sharing municipal data and for coordinating businesses has been built. We have been piloting spots for smart management, analysis and application, which would promote the demonstration for urban management and social treatment innovation.

Besides, Shanghai has also made some explorations, including the annual Shanghai Open Data Apps, which communicate government and company data. This year, data from more than 30 institutions and companies has been included. We guide data in the areas of weather, electricity, gas, communications and transport to provide a better experimental platform for innovators and start-up owners.

Next we will build an open industrial big data storage in cooperation with enterprises to provide different settings for AI testing. From the government’s perspective, we would like to tap into the policies to help innovative enterprises gain open data through measures like purchase and special fund. For example, it might be safer to share data in a certain period of time for research purposes. We will form a pattern of managing, sharing and creating together. Shanghai will encourage a further integration of data on the two sides to set up more application scenes for innovation.

Hong Kong Ta Kung Pao: Chen mentioned the AI+ era. Which industries does the “+” refer to, advantageous industries of Shanghai or industries to be developed in the AI era? How can the city achieve the goal of having its industry scale surpass 100 billion yuan by 2020?

Zhang Ying: This is a very important question. We will focus on the development of the industrial development in six (3+3) aspects.

The first “3” refers to the following three aspects. Firstly, we must accelerate the development of AI and other emerging industries. For example, we will promote the innovation and development of intelligent-connected vehicles. Secondly, we will focus on the development of intelligent robots. Now we are all paying much attention to the development trend of intelligent service robots, industrial robots, specialized robots and new high-end robots. Research and industrialization of robots specialized in surgeries, rehabilitation and chaperone will be emphasized. Thirdly, we need to develop the intelligent hardware industry, increase the supply of products from emerging industries, including unmanned systems and intelligent terminals, and promote innovation in business mode.

The second “3” refers to three core industrial abilities that we need to nurture. Firstly, we need to speed up the upgrading of the software computing platform, and the intelligent operation and general software system of the AI software industry. We should strengthen coordination and cooperation between industrial chains. Secondly, we will support and lead the development of the chip industry related to AI technology. The city will focus on the development and industrialization of intelligent core chips, all kinds of central servers and specialized server products for cloud services and industry terminals as the city has an advantageous integrated circuit industry. Thirdly, we will pay attention to intelligent sensors which is a very important part of the AI industry. The development of intelligent industrial sensors and consumer electronic sensors will be highlighted.

Shanghai Morning Post: Will the city make breakthrough in policies on data opening?

Zhang Ying: Data is an important support for the development of AI. Lately we have been working on the open list of government data. The list will be open to the public later to support all kinds of innovation and entrepreneurship enterprises.

Secondly, we will enhance the coordinated application of data, improve the quality of open data and broaden its content in the process of the application of big data and AI technologies in social governance and urban management.

Chen Mingbo: The future development of the city’s AI technology depends on data. Recently, the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology formulated relevant guidelines on data opening. Frankly speaking, the opening and sharing of data is tough work. However, the government is determined to do it to the best of its abilities.

Shanghai Daily: You mentioned that the city will invite leading overseas AI companies to set up regional headquarters and research institutes in Shanghai? Is there any detailed policy?

Chen Mingbo: How to invite high-end businesses with a value chain and guide the industrial development of the Yangtze River Delta is what we are working on. The characteristic of AI technology is the globalization of the industry chain. The development of the AI industry needs global vision. We need to put emphasis on win-win collaboration in commerce and technologies rather than business investment.

CBN Radio: The Shanghai Development and Reform Commission is one of the departments formulating ‘the Guidelines’. Will the SDRC launch relevant supporting policies?

Qiu Wenjin: The municipal development and reform commission will join hands with the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology and the Shanghai Commission of Science and Technology to offer support in the following three aspects:

Firstly, we will support the demonstration and application of AI technologies in government affairs. Government departments which adopt AI technologies in the process of e-government system construction will be supported. We will step up efforts on application of AI in hotlines, portals and service window of government departments.

Secondly, we will support innovative development of technologies and industries. Major projects of basic advanced scientific technologies will be launched. Relevant departments will work together to build functional platforms for research, development and transformation of key technologies. High-quality enterprises will be supported by special funds for strategic emerging industries, industrial transformation and upgrading, major scientific research projects and guiding funds for service industries. Industrial development will be promoted through implementation of major projects.

Thirdly, we need to introduce social capital. We will introduce diversified and market-oriented capital by making use of the Venture Capital Guiding Fund of Shanghai and the Shanghai Angel Capital Guiding Fund to support the development of the city’s AI industry.