Monday, May 13, 2024

"AI Pioneer Kai-Fu Lee Aims to Bring China Its ChatGPT Moment"

We've visited Mr. Lee a few times. 

September 2018: "If You Read Only One Column On Artificial Intelligence This Month..."

Back in May we thumbnailed Lee Kai-fu as "Sometimes the competition is just plain intimidating/scary/resistance-is-futile, smart."
Followed by his mini-bio from

"KAI-FU LEE, the founder of the Beijing-based Sinovation Ventures, is ranked #1 in technology in China by Forbes. Educated as a computer scientist at Columbia and Carnegie Mellon, his distinguished career includes working as a research scientist at Apple; Vice President of the Web Products Division at Silicon Graphics; Corporate Vice President at Microsoft and founder of Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, one of the world’s top research labs; and then Google Corporate President and President of Google Greater China. As an Internet celebrity, he has fifty million+ followers on the Chinese micro-blogging website Weibo. As an author, among his seven bestsellers in the Chinese language, two have sold more than one million copies each. His first book in English is AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order (forthcoming, September)

And the headline article from Bloomberg, May 12:

  • His startup 01.AI is introducing its first consumer AI app
  • China needs a catalyst in the same way ChatGPT fueled the US

The Beijing startup founded by technology pioneer Kai-Fu Lee is introducing its first artificial-intelligence application for consumers, a step aimed at helping China capitalize on the promising technology.

Lee’s firm, 01.AI, is launching a free productivity assistant called Wanzhi, the latest in a series of AI products it’s developing. Similar to Microsoft Corp.’s Office 365 Copilot, it helps users create spreadsheets, documents and slide presentations more quickly — though it’s mainly tailored for the Chinese market. It can interpret financial reports, take minutes for meetings and speed-read books as long as Elon Musk’s 600,000-word biography to give a quick synopsis. The app works in Chinese and English.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Lee said that China needs its own ChatGPT — OpenAI’s chatbot that was released in 2022 and is banned in the country — to accelerate interest, adoption and investment.

“For Americans, the moment happened 17 months ago,” Lee said over a Zoom call from Beijing. “China’s users didn’t have a ChatGPT moment. Until now, none of the Chinese chatbots or tools have been good enough.”

While US firms such as OpenAI, Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc. have taken the lead in generative AI, Chinese players are pressing hard to catch up. In addition to 01.AI, tech players including Baidu Inc. and TikTok-parent ByteDance Ltd. are pouring funds into developing their own AI models and chatbot services. Beijing has also provided financial and policy support. Beijing bars foreign AI models in part because of its strict censorship regime, but the so-called Great Firewall also ensures that domestic players will have an enormous local market without global competition....



Sensei Kai-Fu Lee on AI in 2041

Yes, yes, in the headline I am mixing-and-matching two ancient Asian cultures but, despite his having been born on Taiwan Dr. Lee really is a sensei in the Japanese meaning of being both master and teacher....  

The computer brainiacs at IEEE Spectrum are fans, linked in "AI: 'Kai-Fu Lee'". 


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