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Hefei plans to create AI 'innovation consortium'

Updated: Mar 11, 2024 By CHENG YU in Beijing and ZHU LIXIN in Hefei China Daily Global Print
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More focused methods are needed to develop artificial intelligence and the related ecosystem to make the frontier technology a new quality productive force, a national lawmaker said at the two sessions.

Luo Yunfeng, mayor of Hefei, capital of Anhui province, and a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress, said the city is striving to integrate innovative resources to develop AI and industry-specific large models and create an innovation consortium for AI.

"To tackle the bottleneck problems of AI is never to rely on a single company," he said. "Joint forces are needed from the government, companies and universities to build an innovation consortium for new quality productive forces."

Compared with traditional productive tools that are driven by elements like labor, land and capital, new quality productive forces are driven by technological innovation, data, smart or intelligent technologies and the like.

Hefei was overshadowed by coastal cities for decades but has emerged in recent years at the forefront of AI, quantum computing, new energy and many other future industries.

It is building a next generation AI experiment zone with a thriving ecosystem comprising 2,400 upstream and downstream enterprises in sectors ranging from hardware to data computing, applications and terminals, including some leading AI companies like iFlytek.

Luo said that when new technological achievements or breakthroughs are made, it is important to apply them and drive their industrialization.

He said Hefei will continue to step up the transformation of technological achievements by first finding the person who made the breakthrough, promoting seed investment by government and businesses, and driving the first application scenarios.

"With such efforts, the last mile of transforming new quality productive forces into real applications will be connected," Luo said.

During the process, the city government acts like a pathfinder, he said, adding that Hefei has actively promoted the application of AI across various sectors and opened more than 600 application scenarios to drive industry-wide innovations in AI.

February's launch of the text-to-video application Sora by US company OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, has been viewed by industry experts as a significant stepping up of AI competition between China and the United States, the world's two largest economies.

"More efforts are needed to tackle common challenges of AI development," Luo said. "It is urgent to accelerate the construction of computing power centers, as computing power is the supporting tool of AI."

Hefei has completed the construction of a national-level smart computing cluster and center, which has served more than 5,000 scientific research institutes and enterprises.

Luo said more efforts are needed to support the development of computing power infrastructure and data annotation.

He also highlighted the importance of expanding investment in key AI sectors like intelligent algorithms, robotics and chip technology, while nurturing a vibrant developer ecosystem to empower various industries with higher-level AI technologies.

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