Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is on the cusp of going mainstream as a new engine for the growth of human civilization. Despite sitting at the center of discussions and witnessing rapid integration with various industries, the emerging technology is still premature for commercialization, according to Wu Shuang, Research Scientist at Chinese AI company Yitu Technology.
“Most of the efforts will still be focused on technology R&D and product definition in the next five years. It’s obvious that AI can integrate with different industries. But because of this industry practitioners will be at loss about the actual forms of products unless it’s being proved valid by the users. Take face recognition as an example, everyone doubted the feasibility of the idea before the industry came up with algorithms and solid products to prove its validity for users. It will be a gradual case-by-case process because of each application need the concerted efforts of lots of engineers. Revolution won’t happen overnight,” Wu told TechNode at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC).
For the time being, the most successful AI applications are business-facing, which is in line with the market predictions. Wu attributes this to the fact that the commercial value of business-facing applications is clear from the very beginning. “It may demand a deeper understanding of a particular industry. But once you passed that entry point, the company’s development thereafter is relatively predictable. For customer-facing applications, the value provided by each user are fewer and the development is relatively unpredictable due to a ton of non-technical factors,” he explained.
Currently, Yitu Technology is mainly engaged in AI applications in medical diagnosis and clinical research as well as public security, all of which are business-faced. But the company is open-minded to customer-faced services. “Strategically, we will invest in projects that currently appear to be most likely to generate immediate benefits. Of course, Yitu will continue to maintain a focus on the entire industry, technology, and business to see new potential directions. We are open for it but will make moves at a proper timing,” says Wu.
As one of China’s foremost computer vision companies, Yitu Technology has become an investment darling over the past year. The company received their latest $100 million round in July, shortly after a $200 million Series C+ funding round in June.
Yitu was granted the Super AI Leader Award for its smart face recognition solution at WAIC. At the same event, it also signed a strategic partnership with a United Nations agency to empower developing countries with the aid of AI.