September 27, 2016 – Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei Technologies Co sees artificial intelligence (AI) as an effective way of solving its own problems, which is a different path compared with other companies such as Google, experts said today.
Huawei is focusing on how to apply AI to its own network to establish a global technology service to ensure network maintenance and breakdown diagnosis, which is different from what Google is doing, Xiang Yang, an industry expert at Beijing-based CCID Consulting, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
“For example, by using AI, Huawei could solve a network problem in Africa via tele-control,” he said, noting that the disruptive technology will become the company’s troubleshooter and help it increase its effectiveness.
Xiang made the comment after Ren Zhengfei, CEO of Huawei, said that the company will use “American bricks to build a Chinese Great Wall.” He made the comment during a speech at Noah’s Ark Lab, the company’s research lab, in August, according to a transcript of the speech posted on the company’s unofficial WeChat account on Sunday.
A huge global market of the network inventory is the best “stage” for AI, Ren said in the speech, noting that the company’s trillion-dollar market requires more skillful and experienced staff in maintenance. And given this situation, AI has much potential, the transcript showed.
AI could help experts save time and focus on 10 percent of all problems, leaving the rest to automation, Ren noted.
The global market scale of the AI sector will reach nearly 119 billion yuan ($17.9 billion) by 2020, and the Chinese market will reach 9.1 billion yuan, according to a report published by Beijing-based industry consultancy iResearch in February.
So far, nearly 100 start-ups are focusing on this disruptive sector, which covers industries like industrial robots, service robots, intelligent hardware and cognitive technology, the report said.
And BAT – the domestic technology trio of Baidu Inc, Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings – have already entered the AI field but with different focuses.
Huawei will focus on “a mainstream course” and not come up with some “consumer products to earn some money,” Ren said during the speech.
Applying AI to a product designed for the public is not in line with the company’s core business, Zhao Ziming, an industry expert at Beijing-based consultancy Analysys International, said.
“The company is striving to use AI technologies to improve the user experience,” he remarked.
Huawei holds a positive attitude toward working with other companies in the AI sector, not only Chinese counterparts but also those overseas, Zhao said, noting that foreign companies have more advantages in this type of technology.
There is no need to compare Huawei with US tech companies like Google in developing AI, Xiang said, as the Chinese company is more focused on the application of some technologies in its own field. Meanwhile, the US company is stepping up efforts to make technological breakthroughs.
“But the two, along with many others in this field, should make AI fit into their own corporate strategies,” he noted.
“For example, Google sold its robotics division Boston Dynamics to Toyota a few months ago, which showed that the company has to first figure out the purpose of working on AI,” Xiang explained.