Betting On Artificial Intelligence Is Tencent’s Social Network Group President

As companies big and small continue to invest in it and develop their expertise, artificial intelligence has a bright future ahead even though it may still be in its nascent stage, says a senior executive at Chinese tech giant Tencent.

He was very bullish about A.I. and a big proponent of offering A.I. as a service, said Dowson Tong, senior executive vice president and social network group president at Tencent, in a TV interview.

“I am very optimistic (and) I am very bullish about the future of A.I. I think by having all these players, big and small, and each with their own expertise, we’re going to see the whole industry prosper,” Tong said.

Operations of Tencent’s social networking platform QQ and Qzone, the music entertainment group and cloud computing are overseen by Tong.

deep learning, machine learning and natural language processing, and robotics and autonomous vehicles, are part of A.I. which encompasses a number of different technologies. For example, working on ways to make virtual assistants effectively bilingual are a team of researchers in India for Microsoft.

There are opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in China, beyond the recognizable tech names in China — Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, Tong said. Some such businesses are “very active, pushing the envelope of the technology (and) coming up with new services everyday as well.”

In order drive the company’s research on speech recognition and natural language processing and oversee operations, Tencent opened a new A.I. lab in Seattle and appointed a former Microsoft scientist last month.

Baidu already has an A.I. lab set up in Silicon Valley among other big names in China. Recently, a product handles huge amounts of data that lets organizations make real-time predictions was

expanded by Alibaba in its big data and A.I. cloud offerings in Europe. In order to look into A.I. in security and intelligent driving technologies, Uber rival Didi Chuxing in March announced an R&D c enter in Mountain View, California.

As adoption across various industries begins to pick up, A.I. is set to unleash a new wave of digital disruption, experts agree.

Noting that about 90 percent of the investments were spent on research and development and 10 percent on A.I.-related acquisitions, a recent report from McKinsey & Company found that, in 2016, tech giants like Google, Baidu and others spent between $20 billion to $30 billion on A.I.

Reaching a combined total of $6 billion to $9 billion, venture capital and private equity financing, grants and seed investments also grew, the report also added.

According to the report, the ways they can create value across the business using artificial intelligence are also required to be convinced by A.I. technology providers. For example, A.I. can provide a better gauge of customer preferences that can allow better targeted sales.

“When we look at A.I., there are different factors (to consider),” said Tong. “We need a scenario where we know exactly what kind of problems you need to solve. We need data to help train the system, to serve or to solve the problems better.”

He added, “Today I think we’re not only providing A.I. capability, we are also combining the data that we’ve (collected) from different services and trying to provide intelligent data services that will help our customers to better meet their needs.”

(Adapted from CNBC)

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