June 29 (UPI) -- China opened its first artificial intelligence summit on Thursday, with the government's top science official promising significant investment in the burgeoning field.
Chinese Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang said the government is drafting a plan to increase subsidies and find ways to implement technology advances in everyday life in China. Among the plans is to make Tianjan, the summit's host city, "cash-free" using electronic payments instead. The government is partnering with the massive e-commerce company Alibaba on the project.
Robin Li Yanhong, chief executive of Baidu, the leading Chinese Internet search engine, implored the nation's private industries to become international leaders in AI, saying, "we are born to do this."
The United States has taken a global lead in many aspects of artificial intelligence, from automated workplace functions to self-driving vehicles, but Robin said China has the necessary parts in place to catch up or surpass U.S. tech companies like Apple, Google and Facebook in the growing field of AI.
"A large number of the published AI papers in the world are written by Chinese. It looks like we are born to do this," he said.
Autonomous vehicles have been a particular highlight of the summit. A competition involving 63 teams is testing Chinese-made self-driving vehicles in three categories, with winners to be announced Friday after the cars go through a series of tests.