China Plans a $2.1 Billion A.I. Research Park

According to Xinhua news agency, a $2.1 billion (13.8 billion yuan) technology park dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) research is currently in the works.

Located in the suburban Mentougou district in western Beijing, the park will be constructed in five years time and will take up 54.87 hectares.

It is estimated that the campus will house up to 400 businesses and generate 50 billion yuan per year.

Amongst popular AI technology and practices, high-speed big data, cloud computing, biometrics and deep learning will be the main areas of research. The park will also provide 5G mobile internet, a super computer and cloud services.

The plan was preceded by China’s announcement back in July 2017, which discussed the country’s ambition to become one of the major leaders in AI technology and to turn it into a 1 trillion yuan industry. By 2025, China is aiming for a "major breakthrough" in AI technology.

Not only does Beijing want to speed up the commercialization of AI in China, but it is also exploring the use of AI in military. This has already incited worry as a Pentagon report showed that the US might consider implementing stricter controls over Chinese investors in U.S. start-ups.

This is seen in the fact that the U.S. government did not pass MoneyGram's agreement with Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba.

Industry insiders such as Jim Breyer have likened the tension between U.S. and China in AI to the "space race of the '50s." However, he contended that the U.S. will still be taking the lead.

"I don't think they'll (China) be number one, because I think there's still a level of genius and creativity in Silicon Valley that persists and will always persist," said Breyer.

The AI technology park will be developed by Zhongguancun Development Group, which will partner with universities, research centres and major corporations to create a few initial research hubs, as well as a "national-level" artificial intelligence lab.

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