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Artificial intelligence

Internet majors launch ‘AI Challenger’ platform to advance research with huge China data pool

The platform wants to empower AI researchers and developers to advance their research without constraints of data resources, say its backers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 August, 2017, 5:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 August, 2017, 5:52pm

Three Chinese internet majors have set up what is claimed to be the one of the largest open databases for artificial intelligence (AI) in the world, aimed at helping global talent advance AI research by harnessing the huge data pool generated by China’s 750 million internet users.

Sinovation Ventures, a venture capital firm founded by veteran tech investor Lee Kai-fu, Chinese online search major Sogou and mobile internet firm ByteDance jointly launched on Monday, the “AI Challenger”, a platform for open datasets and programming competitions for AI talent around the world.

The three companies said they would together invest tens of millions of yuan in the coming three years to make the AI Challenger one of the world’s largest platforms that will empower AI researchers and developers globally to advance their research without the constraints of data resources.

“We have already entered the era of AI. If AI is the engine that powers the development of our society, data is what fuels the movement of the engine,” said Lee Kai-fu, whose Sinovation Ventures is betting hugely that AI will disrupt a wide range of traditional industries with applications like autonomous driving to machine translation.

If AI is the engine that powers the development of our society, data is what fuels the movement of the engine
Lee Kai-fu, Sinovation Ventures

The participants of 2017 AI Challenger competition will be given access to three databases in September, all being the largest in the world of what’s publicly available in their respective categories, including datasets for English to Chinese machine translation and human skeleton key points.

The research results of such datasets can be applied to several sectors, from English-Chinese machine translation to autonomous driving. Winners of the competition will be awarded with a total of 2 million yuan in cash rewards and career opportunities at the three firms.

Where is China’s Silicon Valley?

The three companies said at the launch ceremony in Beijing that the AI Challenger platform was expected to expand over time, by data size and category, such as medical data.

The platform is launched in the wake of the release of China’s national AI development plan in late July. In the three-step roadmap, China has stated its goal to become a global leader in AI by 2030.

“Talent and data are the two pillars for AI development,” said Zhang Hongjiang, head of Technical Strategy Research Center with ByteDance, whose AI-powered news product Toutiao recommends articles and videos based on the different tastes of individual users.

“By providing data, we hope we can attract more talent in developing and designing AI algorithmic models,” he said.