China's artificial intelligence (AI) sector is nurturing growing competitive competence across the globe and injecting high-quality growth impetus to domestic traditional industries, experts said on Monday.
As China has taken the development of AI to a national strategy, business models featuring AI plus traditional sectors have emerged in recent years. One of the attempts that attracts wide attention and offers great growth potential is in the combination of AI with healthcare, industry insiders told a meeting at the China International Big Data Industry Expo 2019.
The expo is being held from Sunday to Wednesday in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China's Guizhou Province, and it is the fifth year for the city to host the event.
China's aging population, growing number of chronic diseases and imbalanced supply and demand of medical resources have created large demand for medical AI, said Gong Rujing, chairwoman and founder of Yidu Cloud, a Guizhou-based company that focuses on AI-driven healthcare solutions.
Established in 2013, Yidu Cloud has provided cloud services for more than 700 hospitals in 25 Chinese provinces through data processing for diseases and treatment.
"We hope to bring down the research cost for drugs via applying AI technology, to reduce misdiagnosis by using real-world evidence and to bring benefits to patients," Gong told the Global Times on Monday.
"We just got started, like the sector in the country," she said, noting that China's medical AI sector is still lagging behind some foreign countries in areas such as the application of real-world evidence and legislation.
"More efforts are needed to build an industrial infrastructure, which is similar to the work that the US focuses on, and we have set standards that can meet the requirements of the US Food and Drug Administration," Gong said.
As the US has been increasing the pressure on China's technology sector, Gong said that the door for cooperation in technology should not be closed.
"During my exchanges with US technology companies and industries, most of them are willing to cooperate," she said. More bilateral information and understanding is necessary to facilitate the process, Gong noted.
China's medical AI market exceeded 13 billion yuan ($1.9 billion) in 2017, up 40.7 percent year-on-year, and the value is estimated to have reached 20 billion yuan in 2018, according to an industry report released by qianzhan.com.
Given the integrated growth of technology under globalization, AI has become one of the factors to evaluate the competitive competence of companies or even countries, experts said, noting that the competitive competence of China's AI sector is growing in the world thanks to the relatively quick expansion of sectors like big data.
The size of China's big data core industry will exceed 720 billion yuan in 2019, Pei Jian, a fellow with US-based the Association of Computing Machinery, said at a meeting during the expo on Monday.
"But the growth of AI should not be at the cost of public privacy and the government is expected to enact laws to protect people's privacy and social stability," he said, noting that the public should also have the right to know about related technology and businesses.