China is building a giant $2.1 billion research park dedicated to developing A.I.

  • China is planning to build a 13.8 billion yuan ($2.1 billion) technology park for the development of artificial intelligence
  • It will be built within five years and situated in the suburban Mentougou district in Beijing
  • Last year, China laid out plans to become a world leader in AI by 2030

China is planning to build a 13.8 billion yuan ($2.1 billion) technology park dedicated to developing artificial intelligence (AI), state-backed news agency Xinhua reported. The campus will be constructed within five years and situated in the suburban Mentougou district in western Beijing. It will cover 54.87 hectares, Xinhua said.

The technology park will be home to around 400 businesses and is expected to create an annual output value of about 50 billion yuan. High-speed big data, cloud computing, biometrics and so-called deep learning, a strand of AI, will be the focus of the new park. It will also have 5G mobile internet, a super computer and cloud services, according to Xinhua.

The news follows the Chinese government’s announcement in July 2017 that laid out plans for the country to become a world leader in AI by 2013, with the aim of making the industry worth 1 trillion yuan. China wants to make a “major breakthrough” in AI technology by 2025.

Beijing hopes to help accelerate the commercialization of AI in China in areas such as smart cities, but is also eyeing its military capabilities, something that could worry the broader international community. Already, the U.S. is taking note. A recent Pentagon report showed how worried Washington was about Chinese firms investing in U.S. start-ups, suggesting that there might need to be tighter controls around this.

On Tuesday, the U.S. government failed to approve MoneyGram’s multi-million-dollar merger with Ant Financial, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Some experts including noted venture capitalist Jim Breyer have compared the competition between the U.S. and China in AI to the “space race of the ’50s.” However, he did say that the U.S. will lead China in AI.

“I don’t think they’ll (China) be number one, because I think there’s still a level of genius and creativity in Silicon Valley that persists and will always persist,” Breyer said during a CNBC-hosted panel in November.

Xinhua said the Beijing park will be developed by Zhongguancun Development Group, which will seek partnership with Chinese and overseas universities, research institutes and large enterprises to establish a number of research hubs on the premises. These will include a “national-level” artificial intelligence lab, Xinhua said.

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