In 2020, Synced has covered a lot of memorable moments in the AI community. Such as the current situation of women in AI, the born of GPT-3, AI fight against covid-19, hot debates around AI bias, MT-DNN surpasses human baselines on GLUE, AlphaFold Cracked a 50-Year-Old Biology Challenge and so on. To close the chapter of 2020 and look forward to 2021, we are introducing a year-end special issue following Synced's tradition to look back at current AI achievements and explore the possible trend of future AI with leading AI experts. Here, we invite Mr. Brian Tse to share his insights about the current development and future trends of artificial intelligence. Brian Tse focuses on researching and improving cooperation over AI safety, governance, and stability between great powers. He is a Policy Affiliate at the University of Oxford's Center for the Governance of AI, Coordinator at the Beijing AI Academy's AI4SDGs Cooperation Network, and Senior Advisor at the Partnership on AI.
In a low-rise building overlooking a busy intersection in Beijing, Ji Rong Wen, a middle-aged scientist with thin-rimmed glasses and a mop of black hair, excitedly describes a project that could advance one of the hottest areas of artificial intelligence. Wen leads a team at the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence (BAAI), a government-sponsored research lab that's testing a powerful new language algorithm--something similar to GPT-3, a program revealed in June by researchers at OpenAI that digests large amounts of text and can generate remarkably coherent, free-flowing language. "This is a big project," Wen says with a big grin. "It takes a lot of computing infrastructure and money." Wen, a professor at Renmin University in Beijing recruited to work part-time at BAAI, hopes to create an algorithm that is even cleverer than GPT-3. He plans to combine machine learning with databases of facts, and to feed the algorithm images and video as well as text, in hope of creating a richer understanding of the physical world--that the words cat and fur don't just often appear in the same sentence, but are associated with one another visually.
Lenovo Group Ltd. is capitalizing on two booming markets, Chinese stocks and the global PC industry, to list in Shanghai. The company is the world's largest maker of personal computers and is well-known for acquiring IBM's ThinkPad unit and the Motorola Mobility smartphone business. The news that Lenovo would join the STAR Market, China's answer to the Nasdaq, boosted its Hong Kong-traded shares, which on Wednesday hit their highest level since 2015. A series of Chinese technology companies have recently listed in mainland China or in Hong Kong, amid heightened tensions with the U.S. Beijing has also encouraged companies to join the fledgling STAR Market, also known as the Science and Technology Innovation Board, by introducing more relaxed listing rules and other requirements compared with other Chinese markets. Lenovo and Megvii Technology Ltd., an artificial-intelligence startup specializing in facial recognition, will be among the first companies to make use of a structure known as a Chinese depositary receipt to raise funds.
Beijing – Browsing the internet as a young policeman in China, Ma Baoli recalls the sheer volume of web pages telling him he was a pervert, diseased and in need of treatment -- simply because he is gay. "I felt extremely lonely after I became aware of my sexual orientation," says Ma, at the time a newly minted officer in a small coastal city. Two decades later, the softly spoken 43-year-old now helms Blued, one of the world's largest dating platforms for gay men. The app went public last July with an $85 million debut on Nasdaq, a remarkable tech success story from a country that classified homosexuality as a mental illness as recently as 2001. Parent company BlueCity's sunlit Beijing campus teems with young and casually dressed programmers who hold meetings in rooms named after Oscar Wilde and other prominent LGBTQ figures from around the world.
Washington – The United States added dozens of Chinese companies, including the country's top chipmaker SMIC and Chinese drone manufacturer SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd., to a trade blacklist on Friday as U.S. President Donald Trump's administration ratchets up tensions with China in his final weeks in office. Reuters first reported the addition of SMIC and other companies earlier on Friday. The move is seen as the latest in Republican Trump's efforts to burnish his tough-on-China image as part of lengthy fight between Washington and Beijing over trade and numerous economic issues. The U.S. Commerce Department said the action against SMIC stems from Beijing's efforts to harness civilian technologies for military purposes and evidence of activities between SMIC and Chinese military industrial companies of concern. The Commerce Department will "not allow advanced U.S. technology to help build the military of an increasingly belligerent adversary," Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
Pingtang, China – Nestled among the mountains in southwest China, the world's largest radio telescope signals Beijing's ambitions as a global center for scientific research. The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) -- the only significant instrument of its kind after the collapse of another telescope in Puerto Rico this month -- is about to open its doors for foreign astronomers to use, hoping to attract the world's top scientific talent. The world's second-largest radio telescope, at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, was destroyed when its suspended 900-ton receiver platform came loose and plunged 140 meters onto the radio dish below. Wang Qiming, chief inspector of FAST's operations and development center, said during a rare visit by the foreign press last week that he had visited Arecibo. "We drew a lot of inspiration from its structure, which we gradually improved to build our telescope," he said.
Over the past year, we've seen a rise in robotaxis and autonomous vehicle use. Companies such as Waymo, Cruise, and Baidu have all made strong headway as industry pioneers. In China specifically, 2020 headlines regularly featured major autonomous vehicle announcements, such as the public launch of Baidu Apollo robotaxi services in the cities of Beijing, Changsha, and Cangzhou. But despite the increasing visibility of robotaxis and the public's broader exposure to autonomous vehicle technology, many people remain hesitant about the safety of self-driving cars. Nearly three in four Americans say autonomous vehicle technology "is not ready for primetime," according to a poll from Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE).
On the 3rd of April 2011, the inhabitants of Chaoyang district in northern Beijing woke up to a strange spectacle. A team of twenty policemen, dressed in plainclothes but armed to the teeth, were placing cordons around an empty building. Power to the neighbourhood had been cut off. In breathless darkness, the residents watched as officers advanced through the doorway, returning minutes later with laptops and a hard drive. Miles away in the Beijing Capital Airport, the building's owner--a towering, shaggy-haired man in his fifties--was being forced, handcuffed, into the back of a squad car.
Beijing – Muslims in China's Xinjiang were "arbitrarily" selected for arrest by a computer program that flagged suspicious behavior, activists said Wednesday, in a report detailing big data's role in repression in the restive region. The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said leaked police data that listed over 2,000 detainees from Aksu prefecture was further evidence of "how China's brutal repression of Xinjiang's Turkic Muslims is being turbocharged by technology." Beijing has come under intense international criticism over its policies in the resource-rich territory, where rights groups say as many as 1 million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been held in internment camps. China defends the camps as vocational training centers aimed at stamping out terrorism and improving employment opportunities. Surveillance spending in Xinjiang has ballooned in recent years, with facial recognition, iris scanners, DNA collection and artificial intelligence deployed across the province in the name of preventing terrorism.
A few months after Baidu's robotaxi service arrived in Beijing, the company has received the first permits to run driverless vehicle tests in the city. China's capital granted Baidu Apollo permission to deploy five such vehicles on public roads. The company plans to remove safety drivers from test vehicles after gradually reducing human intervention. However, a remote safety operator will still be able to take control in an emergency via Baidu's 5G Remote Driving Service. Beijing has strict requirements for driverless road tests.