"Shanghai is the center of China's innovative AI development, and the WAIC has become an important platform for promoting AI industrial communications and collaborations," said Jin Zhuanglong, head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, in a speech via video at the opening ceremony of the conference on Thursday.
In the past four years, the event has attracted more than 2,000 guests and featured over 600 corporate collaborations, while 155 major projects with a combined investment of 110.7 billion yuan ($16 billion) were inked via the platform, said ThePaper.cn, citing the conference organizer.
"As the industrial cluster keeps growing, a complete AI industrial chain has basically formed, and the sector's scale has expanded significantly. In 2021, the combined output value of AI enterprises above a designated size, or with an annual revenue of 20 million yuan or above, has surpassed 300 billion yuan," said Gong Zheng, mayor of Shanghai.
The metropolis has also seen numerous key technological breakthroughs, with the construction of multilevel innovative platforms accelerating and the introduction of intelligent chips increasing, Gong said.
He added that Shanghai has also gathered about one-third of the nation's specialized AI talent.
Furthermore, with the high-tech application going deeper and wider, Shanghai is going to see a batch of benchmark AI applications in the near future, Gong said.
Since 2018, the AI talent pool in Shanghai has soared from 100,000 to 180,000, and the industrial scale of the city's AI industry has doubled, showing that the development of a world-class industrial cluster is underway, said Wu Jincheng, director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization.
"The Chinese government has attached great importance to the development of the AI industry. In the past few years, China's AI sector has been growing at an accelerated speed and a complete AI industrial system has been created. The core AI industrial scale has exceeded 400 billion yuan, and more than 3,000 enterprises are engaged in the industry," Jin of the MIIT said.
AI is increasingly integrated into the whole development process, and is becoming an important driving force for promoting the rapid development of technology, industrial optimization and upgrade, as well as productivity enhancement, Jin added.
Jin said AI is an important part of digital economy development. The MIIT will grasp the characteristics of AI development, stick to opening-up and cooperation as well as coordinate development and safety to promote the deep integration of AI and the real economy in various directions and realize high-quality development.
Regardless of how quickly AI develops, more efforts are needed to promote AI's commercial applications, said Robin Li, CEO of Baidu Inc.
Without good business prospects, a startup company will encounter standstill growth or even a loss, and a promising business outlook is equally important for big-name enterprises, Li said.
Themed "Intelligent Connectivity, Infinite Multiverse", the Shanghai event has attracted more than 200 exhibitors to showcase their products in a 15,000-square-meter exhibition area. Among them, more than 30 percent are making their debut.
In addition to the opening ceremony, the three-day conference consists of a closing ceremony, two plenary sessions, 10 themed forums and several eco-forums. Apart from venues in Shanghai, it will have five parallel session venues in North America, Europe, Singapore, South Korea and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
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