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China’s Ministry of Education issues action plan on promoting AI in universities

According to a report by Xinhua, Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE) issued a detailed action plan on how China will promote artificial intelligence (AI) development in universities.

The MOE action plan on AI emphasised that Chinese universities need to promote AI through strengthening knowledge in basic AI theory, driving technology research and achieving innovation breakthroughs.

The action plan laid out 3 objectives for Chinese universities in the area of AI development:

By 2020, Chinese universities should have optimised systems that achieve both objectives of strengthening science and technology disciplines and promoting scientific innovation with new-generation AI.

By 2025, China hopes to see its universities conduct theoretical research and have a number of “original innovations with international significance”. Other than innovation capabilities, universities should also aim to improve China’s AI-related human capital, in order to “effectively supporting China's industry upgrade, economic restructuring and smart society building”.

By 2030, universities in China will be the world's major AI innovation centres, capable of providing China with technical support and skilled professionals in the field of AI.

Credit: Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China

In strengthening the research on AI basic theories, the plan calls for interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts between AI and other subjects like computer science, mathematics, physics, neuroscience, psychology, and sociology.

It also calls for establishment of more AI innovation centres and high-level think tanks such as the MOE Frontier Science Center, MOE Key Laboratory, and MOE Engineering Research Center, and other national-level laboratories or innovation centres. Increased participation in international cooperation and academic exchanges to promote the development of AI is also encouraged.

In terms of key application areas for AI, the MOE action plan stated that universities should engage in technology transfer to develop AI applications and facilitate the formation of industrial clusters in education, manufacturing, medical care, smart cities, agriculture, finance, security, and national defense sectors.

The development of AI is also in line with China’s plans for civil-military integration.  The focus would be to use AI to improve information technologies for the more efficient information acquisition, and utilisation. Some of the key AI-related innovation areas would be the development of unmanned system and man-machine hybrid system.

As reported earlier, MOE recently unveiled its 5-year AI training program for universities in China. Under the program, eminent AI experts will be invited to train the first 100 teachers and 300 students and explore an appropriate framework for AI education. The program aims to train at least 500 teachers and 5,000 students in AI at top universities over the next five years.

According to Science and Technology Daily, 19 universities added majors in intelligent science and technology in 2017.

The full MOE action plan can be found here (available in Chinese only).

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