China’s biggest artificial intelligence (AI) conference kicked off in Shanghai on Thursday (5), with mainland companies showcasing innovations that could help the country narrow the gap with the United States in technology development.

Premier Li Qiang will deliver the opening speech at the 2024 World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC), which ends on Saturday. The event’s main theme, “Governing AI for Good and for All,” highlights the country’s efforts to lead the way in creating vital AI standards amid stifling U.S. sanctions and rising tensions between Beijing and Washington.

The seventh edition of WAIC, where more than 1,500 AI-related products and systems are expected to be showcased, will be held just days after Beijing scored a diplomatic victory at the United Nations.

On Monday, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a China-led resolution that calls on the international community to create a “free, open, inclusive and non-discriminatory” business environment between rich and developing nations for the development of AI.

Elon Musk speaks at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on August 29, 2019. Photo: Reuters

More than 500 companies are expected to attend this year’s conference, and leaders from major technology companies are expected to speak at the event.

One notable guest speaker is billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk — chief executive of Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies, as well as executive chairman of X, formerly Twitter — who last year praised China in a speech broadcast live on WAIC as “great at anything they put their minds to,” including AI.

Other speakers expected at WAIC include Baidu co-founder, chairman and chief executive Robin Li Yanhong; Ant Group executive chairman and chief executive Eric Jing; and Wang Jian, founder of Alibaba Group Holding’s cloud computing unit. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

Chinese AI champion SenseTime, based in Hong Kong’s Science Park, said it will launch its SenseNova 5.5 large language model (LLM) update at the event. LLMs underpin generative AI services such as ChatGPT.

SenseTime’s Hong Kong-listed shares closed Wednesday up 17.39 percent at HK$1.62.

Attendees are seen at the MetaX booth during last year’s World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai. Photo: Bloomberg

While LLMs are expected to remain a hot topic at this year’s conference, several Chinese semiconductor developers could steal the spotlight from other WAIC exhibitors.

Shanghai-based graphics processing unit (GPU) developer Iluvatar Corex, Moore Threads, Sophgo and Tencent Holdings-backed startup Enflame Technology will showcase AI chips designed to fill the gap left by Nvidia in the domestic market due to U.S. technology restrictions. Another domestic GPU developer, Biren Technology, is expected to join industry discussions at the conference.

Huawei Technologies Co.’s AI chip unit Ascend will host a closed-door forum during the conference, focusing on the computing power needed in this era of massive AI models. The U.S. government has threatened to impose more sanctions on Shenzhen-based Huawei after the company developed an advanced 7-nanometer processor for smartphones.

Via South China Morning Post.


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