Gobi Tech Open Day Highlight — Part 2, AI and Sector Applications

Gobi Tech Open Day — August 14, 2019

Chibo Tang, Partner at Gobi Partners China hosted the “AI and Sector Applications” panel, joined by Professor Jianxiong Xiao — Founder & CEO of autonomous driving developer AutoX; Kelvin Lei — CEO of digital financial advisor Aqumon; and Yong He — CEO & Founder of cloud computing platform DeepBrain Chain.

Chibo Tang — Partner, Gobi Partners China

Professor Xiao opened up the conversation by sharing an overview of AI development phases, from digitization to weak AI, strong AI, and general AI (GAI). In the current landscape, digitization is considered to be mature and completed, but we are still quite far away from achieving GAI. As for weak and strong AI, both are attracting impressive sums in VC funding, but their difference mostly lies in industry use cases and commercial applications.

Take the autonomous driving technology developed at AutoX as an example of strong AI, the business model is heavily dependent on technological advancement, hence the there is a longer development cycle and a higher entry barrier into the field. This has implications for fundraising as investors need to understand that expectations for how quickly the technology can be monetized should be different to businesses that utilize weak AI, and this type of partnership is built on a longer-term vision. Professor Xiao is confident that the development of an AI driver will be completed in three to five years’ time, making for the biggest AI breakthrough pre-GAI.

When it comes to the growth of the AI industry, Yong He offers the view that there is no foreseeable bottleneck in the AI market’s development trajectory. While 95% of blockchain companies have struggled to survive in 2018, DeepBrain Chain has found a competitive edge by leveraging AI. They have built a platform that consolidates computing resources to effectively increase the accessibility of GPU computing power, hence revolutionizing the AI cloud platform. He has demonstrated AI’s versatility as a platform technology and how businesses can find opportunities by identifying niches in other sectors.

On the other hand, Kelvin Lei of Aqumon shared how industry application makes his experience as the founder of a fintech platform is unique from Professor Xiao and Yong He’s. Naturally, AI algorithms are still the backbone of the business, but as the platform went to market, compliance became just as, if not more, important. Their team has also been working with banks to offer their digitized investment advisory and big data collection services, which makes for a vastly different development focus.

Each of the founders left us with some advice from their experience as AI pioneers and entrepreneurs. Professor Xiao offered that in the strong AI sector, talent is key, although algorithms, engineering, and strategy are all crucial to the success of the company. Yong He noted that strategic entry into a carefully selected industry and market acquisition are both critical, and Kelvin Lei identified application use case, a strong talent pool, and an active response to feedback to be the top three priorities.

Stay posted as we discuss Industry 4.0, opportunities in enterprise solutions and more in following posts.

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