WAIC kicks off with connectivity message
The World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) opened in Shanghai on Thursday with the theme of "Intelligent Connectivity, Indivisible Community" with hundreds of speakers and industry experts sharing their insights on the latest developments in AI.
Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang told the opening ceremony that the city aims to become a strategic hub for the exchange of ideas and innovative AI applications between home and foreign markets.
It also aims to build an open collaborative platform to improve urban management to make the city smarter and safer.
Shanghai will fully leverage AI to enhance urban management, and the city will adopt a more open stance for AI to be adopted in a wide range of areas such as transport, housing, education, health care, elderly care, cultural and sports, Li said.
"Science and technology is an important part of cross-border collaboration and AI provides powerful support and lays the framework for such partnership. We hope to join hands with other nations to answer this era’s questions and challenges," he said.
"AI came into being to improve civilization and enhance collaboration, and nowadays connectivity is of crucial importance, it has helped people to sustain their daily routines and also helped business recovery," he said.
"Countries around the world also share their virus-fighting experience through smart connectivity infrastructure and this improves our friendship and also helps boost confidence for favorable development in the future," he added. "We should guide the development of AI for it to better serve humankind."
At the same time it will also focus on the ethics of AI development, to prevent potential security breaches to make sure such capability is in the right hands to better serve society.
The conference aims to build a platform for all parties to come together and discuss AI governance topics and major development initiatives and milestones of smart networks.
"Shanghai will keep its opening-up stance to connect global resources and bring cutting-edge solutions to the city," Li said.
The world's first AI idol musical score MV "Intelligent Community" was unveiled at the opening ceremony. It was composed and performed by Baidu's DuerOS, Xiaomi's MI AI, Microsoft’s Xiaoice and Yousa, member of VirtuaReal Star, a Bilibili virtual artist group.
Global business leaders, participants and top thinkers shared AI's prospects, their future roles and how they could better serve society.
"I believe the most exciting prospects for AI in health care are here in China and we are constantly looking for the best partners to bridge critical gaps in health care and to pursue new ways of making health care more efficient, more accessible and more cost-effective," said AstraZeneca global CEO Pascal Soriot.
“In health care, AI is changing and accelerating how we make scientific discoveries, develop new medicines and manufacture them. It also allows us to improve the way diseases are diagnosed and patients treated and in the long term even help us predict, and even prevent disease," he added.
China is already the UK-based company's second-largest market and increasingly important for innovation. It set up the Healthcare Internet of Things Innovation Center in 2017 in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.
Soriot said the company is seeking local partners for its digital initiatives.
Sam Li, SAP global executive vice president and managing director of SAP China, expected AI to bring US$15.7 trillion worth of GDP growth in the next decade with around half of that from China.
This would come from automated manufacturing processes and smart robot-aided areas. "The combination of AI and industrial manufacturing should become a major focus for Shanghai to develop AI," Li said.
Tech giants are sharing their views on how AI would contribute to economic growth as business and daily commutes gradually return to normal.
In a keynote speech, Robin Li, Baidu chairman and CEO, said AI is no longer far away from everyday life and it has enriched people’s vision and helped to close time and space gaps.
"We also need to realize we're not yet fully equipped with technologies to counter the anti-globalization trend, but I still remain confident as AI is picking up fast and proved to be helpful in a number of industries such as search, information distribution and driverless vehicles," he added.
"I also believe that the government-initiated 'new infrastructure' plan to build infrastructure with AI at its core will boost efficiency in transportation, energy, and other fields, driving economic growth," he said.
China is actively promoting the "new infrastructure” plan, which is regarded as the largest-scale infrastructure expansion engineering project to facilitate the emergence of an intelligent economy and society, and Li expected the plan has great potential to bring about comprehensive AI in China.
He said Baidu expects to bring the number of its smart servers to 5 million in the next 10 years and to become a general AI solution provider for companies in all industry sectors no matter their business size.
Ren Yuxin, Tencent’s chief operating officer, said AI had played an important role in ensuring logistics and capital flow during the pandemic, and also assisted new drug development, and agricultural and plant growing and Tencent expects to further upgrade its data center and eSports teams with its eastern China headquarters located in the city.
"AI not only changes how humans interact with machines, it also signals a shift in human relationships," Ren said. "We have made 'AI for good' a guiding principle and we want to make AI reliable and safe for all humanity."
Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of The Blackstone Group, called for countries share best practices in AI for people to gain experience about how reliable smart applications improve society.
"Without a cross-border collaboration and cross-disciplinary partnership, many nations would suffer losses from missing innovation development opportunities and miss the benefits brought by the booming AI segment," he said.
He said the guiding principles are transparency, fairness, safety, responsibility and privacy for all parties to promote future positive discussion and collaboration.