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China races to become the dominant machine-learning provider over US technology giants

Competition heats up among top cloud providers to deliver more consumer friendly AI products.

China’s cloud providers, Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, are getting ready to do battle with US giants Amazon, Google, and Microsoft to deliver AI online, writes Will Knight for MIT Technology Review.  Cloud computing companies are all racing to deploy increasingly sophisticated services featuring machine learning and AI.  Jian Wang, president of Alibaba’s technology committee and a senior figure at the company predicts that cloud AI will become a major trend.  “I’m convinced that AI or machine learning will be the major consumer of applications [in the cloud],” says Wang.

Speaking at EmTech China, an event held by MIT Technology Review in Beijing, Animashree Anandkumar, principal scientist at Amazon Web Services, touted the AI capabilities of her company.  Amazon Web Services is the largest cloud provider in the US, offering a number of AI services via the cloud.  Amazon has also developed its own deep-learning framework, called MXNet, to help build awareness among machine-learning pupils. “Currently, running experiments on AI requires huge computer resources,” says Anandkumar.

She continues by adding: “The cloud is a way to democratize AI because anyone can access that computer power.  The other aspect of democratizing AI is globalizing it.  How do we enable everybody to innovate locally, and have equally good support across languages and cultures?”

Google recently demonstrated an innovation designed to make it much easier to make use of the most powerful machine-learning algorithms; while the Chinese government is pushing its industry with massive investment. Whoever materializes as the dominant players could fashion the kinds of AI services that become widely adopted.

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