Liu Qingfeng: We are Experiencing the Flowers of AI Blooming

Liu Qingfeng: We are Experiencing the Flowers of AI Blooming

At the opening ceremony of the Fourth Voice Expo and the 2021 iFLYTEK 1024 Developer Festival themed “Symbiosis with AI·A New Journey” in the Hefei Olympic Sports Center, iFLYTEK Founder and Chairman Liu Qingfeng delivered a keynote speech titled Here, We Hear the Flowers of AI Blooming – calling for a greater role of artificial intelligence and AI developers in solving major social problems.
Liu Qingfeng: We are Experiencing the Flowers of AI Blooming

“Artificial intelligence has never been as close to us as it is today”; and “human beings have never had as urgent a need as today for artificial intelligence,” Liu said in his speech.

The full text of the speech is as follows:

Good morning, my friends!

How time flies! This year, with the joint efforts of iFLYTEK and all AI developers, artificial intelligence has continued to achieve vigorous development in various fields, including original innovations, industrial chain safety, epidemic prevention and control, production resumption and social undertakings.

We often say that from original innovations to industrial development, artificial intelligence is just like a seed that has sprouted and bloomed—it first sprouts from the dark soil like a tiny blade of grass; then develops buds after going through winds and rains; and eventually blooms year after year following freezing winters. In the fertile land of Hefei, artificial intelligence has been blooming and flourishing. Together with all of you, we are experienceing the flowers of artificial intelligence blooming.

Over the past year, our AI open platform has achieved progress despite the many challenges. The number of registered developers on the platform increased by 69 percent from 1.57 to 2.65 million. The 1.08 million new members come from a wider range of industries with a greater variety of applications. From focusing on personal applications, the developers have worked to empower industries and promote industrial development, with 60% of their applications developed for industrial production. Artificial intelligence will profoundly change production and life around the world.

Through the vigorous development of the iFLYTEK Open Platform, we can clearly see that a great new era is coming. This year’s developers’ competition has attracted more participants than we expected—the number of the competing teams rose by 146% from over 9,000 last year to 22,000, and the industries involved grew from by 356% from 23 to 105. Furthermore, 40% of the teams come from new first-tier cities and 87% of the participants are young entrepreneurs under the age of 30.

We can see that artificial intelligence is spreading in new directions. The sustainability of the entrepreneurial ecosystem of a country or a region depends on the age of its entrepreneurs. From this perspective, artificial intelligence is thriving and flourishing, and the young entrepreneurs are ready to embark on a great journey that will change the world.

This year, the developers’ competition did not only involve algorithms and applications, but also various programming activities and an AI debate competition. More than 60 partners joined iFLYTEK in launching competitions for 105 different industries, with companies like Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi and other leading enterprises working with us to organize competitions in application development for their relevant industries. Universities including the University of Science and Technology of China, Tsinghua University and China Agricultural University joined us in carrying out research-related competitions; and industry associations such as the China Information Industry Association and the China Association of the Deaf co-launched charity programs with us.

During the developers’ competition, we set up eight glass rooms on the lawn for the developers to work in and for the visitors to better observe the competition without disturbing the developers inside.

After the developers’ competition award ceremony yesterday, we transformed the eight glass rooms and opened them to visitors. The visitors were able to experience personalized synthesized versions of their sentences and view the voiceprints; they could have their Mandarin or English proficiency evaluated by uttering a few hundred words; they were able to test their writing skills and compete with a computer in translation; and they could compete with our “digital employees” in other aspects like handling financial statements.

Additionally, our family doctor and legal assistant can help with your life. When you face legal problems, the legal assistant will show you relevant regulations and provisions. If you want a consultation on your health, the family doctor system will give feedback on your physical condition and recommend hospitals and doctors for treatment. It can even detect Alzheimer’s disease and conduct proactive prevention to help seniors lead a better life.

Artificial intelligence has never been as close to us as it is today, with both original innovation and industrial application underway.

We believe there are three key signs of artificial intelligence delivering dividends—first, there are practical scenarios for application development; second, the scenarios can be promoted on a large scale; and third, the applications can prove effective with statistics.

Artificial intelligence is now within our reach thanks to the efforts made by every developer present today. Just as the Chinese saying goes, “The wind comes from the tips of grass.”

From the three AI technologies opened at the very beginning, the iFLYTEK Open Platform has so far made 441 technologies available to the public. These core technologies have contributed to the continued prosperity of the platform.

iFLYTEK works to build itself into a source of original technological innovation and strives to realize its dream of achieving revolutionary breakthroughs in the AI industry.

We are working continuously to build a leading engine for core AI technologies. Through breakthroughs in unsupervised training and small data learning algorithms, we can achieve even better results with less labeled data and therefore reduce the cost of artificial intelligence application in various fields.

In the era when all things are intelligently interconnected, we have made breakthroughs in multi-modal interaction by combining speech recognition with face recognition, lip-reading, gestures and eye contact, to realize the goal that the front-end is able to “hear and speak” and the back-end is able to “understand and think”, so as to solve problems in complicated scenarios.

We have also worked to integrate artificial intelligence and brain science research and promote brain-related discovery, protection, research, development and brain-computer interface.

Meanwhile, we work to enhance human-machine collaboration and realize analytical and integrative modeling of human knowledge. For example, the IFLYTEK Smart Medical Assistant can improve itself while interacting with doctors in treating each patient, therefore enhancing grassroots healthcare and bringing about better social welfare. Such continuously improving human-machine coupling and its large-scale application have promoted AI technologies to be constantly iterated.

These technological breakthroughs make us keenly aware that human beings have never had as urgent a need as today for artificial intelligence.

The results of the seventh national census show a further aging population, increasing the importance of AI technology to make up for the labor shortage and to ensure happy lives for the people of China.

Human beings have never had as urgent of a need for artificial intelligence as they do today. The “14th Five-Year Plan” period is the most critical window of opportunity for artificial intelligence to solve major social issues. By seizing this window of opportunity, we will be among the first to gain a say in the world on how to utilize AI to address the rising challenges the world will face.

At present, to solve major historic issues, we can no longer rely on a single technology, but must instead rely on systematic innovation. Here are two examples:

First, how to reduce the burdens of teachers and students and teach children in accordance with their aptitude?

Through AI-related technology, iFLYTEK can analyze students’ ability to learn and evaluate data on their homework and exams to find their weak links and provide them with precise guidance. All this involves a series of relevant technologies such as OCR and automatic scoring. These technologies must be fundamentally integrated and combined with management, teaching and research, and the content to achieve desired results.

Hefei has taken the lead in using AI to help with the “double reduction” campaign and has achieved impressive results. The application of AI has cut the homework time of students by 50%, reducing students’ burdens while improving their performance. Only when targeted measures are taken with artificial intelligence, can the excessive burden students face be solved. Furthermore, when artificial intelligence helps teachers improve the efficiency of correcting homework and preparing lessons, they will have more time to focus on their own lives. Based on artificial intelligence, we can accurately analyze the teaching progress and find children’s interests, strengths, and weaknesses even without conducting exams.

The same logic applies to healthcare. To prevent and control epidemics, we must equip machines with basic diagnosis and treatment capabilities, including the ability to diagnose 44 infectious diseases and 6 syndromes, the ability to analyze gatherings in certain periods or areas, and the ability to quickly screen massive amounts of information. All these key technologies need to be fundamentally integrated, and at the same time deeply integrated with other technologies, resources, data, and management systems. We are working to launch a platform in Hefei and based on the existing applications, the platform can shorten the infectious disease detection period from three days to only one.

Now, areas ranging from education, healthcare and industrial manufacturing are requiring systematic innovation. No single technology will solve the existing problems, and leading enterprises must take the lead in conducting systematic innovation. We must use artificial intelligence to solve major societal problems and shift from making singular breakthroughs in to achieving systematic innovation.

The question is then how to implement systematic innovations in more and more industries and apply them to solving major problems, and how to engage developers in the process. To answer this, we must give a role to developers.

Without China’s lunar exploration projects, the historic contributions made by the scientists in the process would be impossible. Likewise, innovative developers are often blocked from systematic innovation due to the lack of resources, opportunities, and qualifications.

So far, iFLYTEK has provided 441 AI technologies for the use of 2.65 million developers in developing products and applications.

Here, we would like to officially launch the iFLYTEK Open Platform 2.0 Strategy.

At the core of the iFLYTEK Open Platform 2.0 Strategy, we will work with leading enterprises with the most resources and the greatest capacities to jointly build the foundation for serving various industries.

We will open our scenarios for applications to developers; and at the same time, collect the various ideas of developers on the platform. The platform adopts a reasonable profit-sharing model with developers to empower all aspects of life. We aim at a low-code and no-code platform that provides developers with technological services. In this way, developers in various industries don’t have to understand the core technologies and they can work through a graphical user interface to solve the major problems in their fields.

We have proposed 18 main industries for product and application development, ranging from education, healthcare, smart city development, and agriculture and environmental protection. Through the developers’ competition, we can see that thousands of teams are working as I have mentioned in each of these fields.
2021 iFLYTEK 1024 Developer Festival

To implement the strategy, we propose six key measures:

1. Standard System—The National Standardization Administration has approved the establishment of a national technology standard innovation base in Anhui;

2. Test Platform—The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has established a speech innovation center to conduct tests for third parties and check whether the applications developed by entrepreneurs are qualified;

3. Certification System—We will build a certification system concerning the capacities and credit records of entrepreneurs;

4. Training System—We will work to train developers in systematic innovation.

5. Low-code Platform—Entrepreneurs on the platform don’t have to understand artificial intelligence so long as they understand scenario-based applications and have creative ideas. With inspirations and imagination, they can join the wave of artificial intelligence 2.0.

6. Developers’ Competition—Many of the competition events concerning 105 industries were set around our iFLYTEK Open Platform 2.0 Strategy.

We believe a flourishing industry ecosystem determines the global competitive landscape in the future of the artificial intelligence industry and that this ecosystem must prepare for digital survival in the future.

Apart from virtual reality, augmented reality terminals, and back-end computing power, there is another key—to build a new virtual human interaction platform.

Here in Hefei, iFLYTEK will take a lead in creating a source of innovation for the world.

The virtual human interaction platform must enable comprehensive interaction that monitors the timbre, tone, facial expressions, eye contact, and surroundings of its user. To this end, we should also customize the eyes, mouth, and facial expressions of the virtual beings, making them as vivid as possible.

Of course, we can also create 3D virtual humans, but it has given the industry a headache to manage the their expressions. However, despite this we have still achieved noteworthy progress. Let me give you a brief demonstration.

In the future, we will combine emotions with the back-end algorithms concerning semantics, tones, and facial expressions to make people feel as though they have a real human assistant and partner in the virtual world.

Today, we would like to take the lead in launching a virtual human interaction platform. This platform must support multi-modal perception, allowing perception through various means such as speech, gestures, body language, lip-reading; and through the measurement of various health indicators such as blood pressure, heartbeat, and pulse.

At this year’s iFLYTEK 1024 Developer Festival, we have invited many talented individuals to contribute their voices for common creation, sharing, and the accumulation of knowledge. As you can see, the “Artificial Intelligence Voice Seeking Project” has collected nearly 5,000 works. The participants have greatly contributed and have used a sound cooperation pattern to create virtual anchors that will serve us in the future virtual world. This will be the core logic behind interaction and crowd-creation in digital economy and digital services in the future.

In fact, artificial intelligence can progress beyond dealing with emotions to provide even more targeted services.

Here are two examples: the Go player robot in the 1024 exhibition hall and the iFLYTEK smart learning pad.

Here is the scenario that children enjoy—the Go player robot can adjust itself according to the level of its opponent and make it possible to always beat the opponent by a small margin. In this sense, it will serve like a real opponent to play against you in the classroom or at home.

As for the iFLYTEK smart learning pad, when students do exercises on it, data concerning the time taken and the choices made will be collected for future analysis of their learning. According to the data collected, the knowledge system and the curriculum standards, the learning pad will give more accurate diagnosis of students’ learning and recommend more targeted learning paths based on the “Zone of Proximal Development” theory.

We provide children with exercises slightly beyond their current capacity, but still within their reach. Only by removing ineffective and inefficient practices, can we precisely empower each child.

Such thinking reflects a dream of iFLYTEK–to create artificial intelligence that belongs to everyone. We will work to provide each teacher with an AI teaching assistant, each senior with an AI health consultant, each doctor with an AI diagnosis and treatment assistant, and each employee with an AI helper. The time is now and the era of AI is coming.

We hope to realize the ultimate dream of artificial intelligence with all developers through iFLYTEK’s original technology innovations and its open platform. We aim to help everyone, accompany everyone, and enable everyone to usher in a new era by standing on the shoulders of artificial intelligence.

We will all experience the flower of AI blooming together. After sprouting from the dark soil and going through all the winds and rains, a seed will eventually bloom and bear fruits. But only when there is thick soil, can such a process be repeated by more seeds. In building a source of artificial intelligence innovation and an AI industry cluster, Hefei and the broader Anhui region have served as such a land.

Start-up teams with capacities of innovation and top talents in the world, however small they, are just like seeds. Whenever they sprout, they will come into full bloom some day in a thriving industry ecosystem.

We look forward to coming into full bloom together with all of you on the land of artificial intelligence in China.

Thank you!

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