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What Makes China the World Leader in AI A latest research from Dentsu Aegis Network shows that people in China are the most optimistic about the impact of digital technology

By Komal Nathani

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While everywhere else there is a fear of technology taking over people's job, China, the world leader in the digital economy, thinks it has the capacity to bring a change.

The latest research from Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) shows that people in China are the most optimistic about the impact of digital technology and artificial intelligence (AI) on work and life. Wonder why?

"The answer may lie in the belief of people in China that their education system is providing them with the tools and knowledge to succeed in the future, however uncertain or disruptive that may be," says Susana Tsui, the chief executive officer of Dentsu Aegis Network China, in an email interview.

Shaping the Global Future of AI

The report highlights that 68 per cent of people in China think that their formal education (e.g. school, college, university) has given them the technical skills and knowledge they need — the highest proportion by far out of the countries analyzed; the global average is at 41%.

Tsui gives the credit of formalized education system to the Chinese government. She says, "The government has been quick to embrace and experiment with new technologies in the classroom, aiming to develop a new generation of students for whom working with AI is second nature."

"AI courses are to be included in primary and secondary schools, while a new AI textbook has been developed by leaders in the field, covering topics such as facial recognition and autonomous driving. This willingness to enact large-scale and rapid reform is also contributing to the optimism faced by people within the country as well," she adds.

A survey conducted by Dentsu Aegis Network in partnership with Oxford Economics shows that China ranks first on the trusts dimension among nine other countries that include, UK, Spain, US, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Japan.

Some of the key findings say, "73 per cent of people in China view the future impact of digital technology will be positive overall, as well as in terms of its ability to create jobs and address societal challenges."

"Men and women in China are almost equally positive about the future impact of digital technology. The gender gap in digital engagement score in China is one percentage point (72 per cent for women versus 73 per cent for men) compared to the sample average of 7 percentage points (42 per cent for women and 49 per cent for men)," it adds.

China's rich ecosystem that includes innovators, investors, a tech-friendly attitude among regulators and government, and its massive consumer market is leading the digital growth of the country. The country embraces 731 million Internet users, which outnumber those in the European Union and the US combined, says a January report of the World Economic Forum.

How Intelligently China is leading AI Growth?

With the in-depth knowledge and better understanding of artificial intelligence, China has become the most attractive market for AI investment. A report titled "China's AI Development Report 2018" released by Tsinghua University says, "The market value of China's artificial intelligence (AI) industry reached 23.7 billion yuan (about 3.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017, with the growth rate expected to reach 75 per cent in 2018."

The country is currently riding the AI wave as from start-ups to established players, businesses across sectors are making an extensive use of technology. As much as businesses are growing with AI, the government of China is also betting high on this industry.

The facial recognition technology is penetrating deep into China. The government of China is using cameras to track passengers at railway stations, identify homeless people on the streets, and even monitor worshippers in state-approved churches.

What built the trust among people of China on the future of AI in the country? Tsui says, "What we see in China is a confidence that technology can drive growth across the country. Initiatives at both a government and private business level have seen rural populations, as well as urban megacities, benefit from digital technology."

She adds that AI is seen as another way that technology can help make life easier. Whether that's AI-based voice recognition that helps you control your home, or being able to use visual recognition tools, the penetration of AI is giving businesses a major push.

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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