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Tencent's plan to take AI everywhere

Artificial Intelligence isn't just a thing of science fiction anymore, with the technology playing a bigger and bigger role in our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn't just a thing of science fiction anymore, with the technology playing a bigger and bigger role in our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not.

One of the big players in the area, Tencent Inc, plans to integrate AI capabilities into its various businesses, covering cloud, app stores, and gaming. 

It also aims to open AI platforms to more industry partners, which is expected to boost China's AI development thanks to the giant's huge user base and influence.

The tech giant also announced it will invest 10 billion yuan (US$1.52 billion) in 2018 to encourage users to contribute more content to its eco-system.

“We want to take AI everywhere, covering cutting-edge academic research and several applications like facial recognition, healthcare and machine learning translation,” Zhang Tong, director of Tencent’s AI Lab said.

The results of AI Lab, covering Tencent’s algorithm and calculation ability, has been used in Tencent’s various services covering cloud and application stores. It will soon be used in the social and games businesses of Tencent, which covers more than one billion users across China. 

For its mobile application store with more than 200 million active users, AI has been used to analyze user habits and offer recommendations with machine learning technology, Tencent’s mobile application platform general manager Zhou Tao said.

National strategy to light the way

According to the blueprint put forth by the State Council, China’s cabinet, the value of the nation’s core AI industries will exceed 150 billion yuan by 2020 and 400 billion yuan by 2025.

With this national strategy, China’s top dot-com firms including Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu have announced their own AI strategies, such as Baidu’s “All In AI” and Alibaba’s expansions into smart driving.

From 2018, Tencent will gradually open its AI platform to industry partners in areas like medical, retail, manufacturing and transportation, integrating Tencent’s cloud services, Zhang said.

Besides the lab in Shenzhen, Tencent has opened an AI office in Seattle this year to attract top-level AI talents.

Up until 2017, AI-related investments reached US$22.4 billion globally, with China becoming one of the most important AI investment markets.

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