China's government has made no secret of its ambition to become a global leader in AI - previously stating that it envisaged itself to have achieved that target by 2030. However, it has now received a timely boost following the news that three of the country's largest technology companies have joined forced to create an AI Challenger contest.
China's second-biggest search giant Sougou, Sinovation Ventures and internet firm Bytedance have pooled their funds and data together to create the innovative competition. It has been disclosed that the contest will have a prize of 2 million yuan ($300,000) - and participants in the competition will be judged on innovation in the field of AI research.
In addition to this, it has been further disclosed that entrants will eventually be allowed access to a data-set featuring 300,000 image-based objects and more than 10 million text-based data entries. Researchers that participate in the program will essentially have access to enough data to jump-start any machine-learning project.
Artificial is 'taught' by feeding it data that then subsequently enables algorithms to create conclusions and patterns, with the overall objective being a system that gets better and improves over time. Chief executive of Sougou, Wang Xiaochuan stated that the formation of such a competition allows prospective researchers and innovators access to a huge data pool that will greatly benefit the acceleration of AI in China. He said, "In the US, professors and researchers would complain about falling [behind] big corporations due to the lack of data. Here we hope to set up a longstanding contest and cultivate talents by providing them with a huge data pool.
China is currently ranked alongside the US and India in relation to AI research. AI has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons recently, with many tech leaders, notably Elon Musk who has called for more regulation in this area, with fears emerging of the development of killer robots and artillery. However, it's evident that there's no stalling the full-scale implementation of AI. What is even more evident is that China intends to set the pace in the AI race.