MOE held a press conference at Zhejiang University to present the Action Plan on Promoting Artificial Intelligence in Universities [Photo/Fan Shigang]
On June 8, 2018, the MOE held a press conference at Zhejiang University to present the Action Plan on Promoting Artificial Intelligence in Universities (“Action Plan”) being brought into force in April 2018. The event was attended by Lei Chaozi, Director of the Department of Science and Technology under the MOE; Pan Yunhe, member and former Executive Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Engineering; Wu Zhaohui, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and President of Zhejiang University; You Zheng, member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and Vice President of Tsinghua University, and Professor Li Jiandong, Vice President of Xidian University; and was facilitated by MOE spokesperson Ms. Xu Mei.
According to Mr. Lei, the Action Plan was the culmination of 9 months of extensive consultations among more than 30 experts from 26 universities on talent cultivation and independent innovation for developing AI in universities, invaluable input from members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering/Sciences, such as Pan Yunhe, Wu Jianping and Chen Jie, cross-disciplinary communication and coordination, following the issuance of the New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan by the State Council in July 2017.
As a roadmap document, the Action Plan sets out three milestones for Chinese universities in the next two decades: first, to put in place an optimized research, innovation and disciplinary infrastructure to pave the way for the development of new-generation AI by 2020; second, to make good progress in independent innovation and talent cultivation in the field of AI, including achieving a fair share of the world’s most significant breakthroughs in AI by 2025; and third, to become an innovation powerhouse of excellence catapulting China into global pole position in AI-related development by 2030, serving as an engine for worldwide AI industry growth.
The Action Plan lists 18 objectives organized around three goals: optimizing the existing innovation framework for AI development, cultivating more high-caliber talent in the field of AI and promoting the commercialization of research outcomes. It proposes that resources be focused on big data-driven learning, cross-media collaborative processing, human-machine intelligence synergy, collective intelligence, autonomous intelligent systems. The document also underlines the importance of capacity building for innovation teams in basic and application-oriented research. In this respect, the MOE will support the introduction of AI-related sub-disciplines or inter-disciplines in the existing computer science programs offered by universities. Additionally, the MOE mandates that AI knowledge be taught to pupils, and that universities share their research and teaching resources in this area with primary schools, to stimulate interest in future researchers.
In the Action Plan, the MOE also pledges to support universities which apply their research to develop and build smart schools, production lines, medical care, cities, agriculture, finance and justice, and a stronger national defense. It also encourages universities to lend intellectual support to regional growth initiatives through partnerships with local governments and businesses, allowing AI to play a greater role in regional development.