China embraces AI boom, diverse application scenarios

(Xinhua) 15:04, April 28, 2024

BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Wearing a pink hairpin, white T-shirt and pink shorts, a "girl" who looks three or four years old has grabbed the spotlight at the exhibition of the ongoing 2024 Zhongguancun Forum in Beijing.

The "girl," named Tong Tong, or Little Girl in English, is an advanced virtual artificial intelligence (AI) avatar based on artificial general intelligence, according to Zhu Songchun, director of the Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence, the developer of the product.

In a video demonstration, after being programmed to a preference for liking things tidy, Tong Tong independently fetched a towel to mop up spilled milk when she noticed it on the table -- the behavior came from her autonomous decision made based on a guide of value, rather than a pre-set program.

"Unlike the conventional AI, she can understand your words, interpret your intentions and proactively offer assistance," said Zhu, adding that Tong Tong is expected to be applied in various scenarios and empower industries covering six fields, including emergency, transportation, education and healthcare sectors.

Boasting plentiful AI innovations like Tong Tong, China has seen its AI industry in the fast lane. According to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the total scale of China's core AI industry has reached 500 billion yuan (about 70.37 billion U.S. dollars), and the number of related enterprises has exceeded 4,400.

Featuring diverse application scenarios, AI technology has been permeating every aspect of society.

In the realm of autonomous driving, driverless vehicles with AI technology can automatically choose the optimal route, maintain a proper speed and smoothly pass through complex road sections. In the medical sector, surgical robots equipped with AI systems can help increase the precision and accuracy of the operation, which contributes to reducing post-surgery pain and shortening hospital stays.

Regarding the large language model (LLM), which has become a mainstream of AI development, official data shows that China's number of self-developed LLMs ranks second in the world, and over 100 LLMs with more than one billion parameters each have been launched in the country.

According to Wang Haifeng, chief technology officer of China's tech giant Baidu, the user base of its LLM and ChatGPT-like product dubbed Ernie Bot has exceeded 200 million. It provides a wide range of services, such as drafting speeches, business plans and instructions, as well as drawing flow charts and mind maps, covering many aspects of work and life.

"At present, China is making efforts in mastering advanced LLM algorithms, in promoting the deep integration of computing software and hardware, and in accelerating technology transformation to applications in various sectors," said Liu Qingfeng, chairman of iFlytek, one of China's leading AI companies.

In Liu's eyes, China has formed a comparative advantage in the fields of voice LLM and medical LLM.

"More and more innovative AI application scenarios and product forms are expected to be seen in 2024," said Wu Hequan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering. "China is a leading country in the internet field, and will also be a leading country in AI application."

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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