ChinAI Newsletter #31: China's Top AI Labs -- Introducing AI Impact Factors

Welcome to the ChinAI Newsletter!

These are Jeff Ding's weekly translations of writings on AI policy and strategy from Chinese thinkers. I'll also include general links to all things at the intersection of China and AI. Please share the subscription link if you think this stuff is cool. Here's an archive of all past issues. *Subscribers are welcome to share excerpts from these translations as long as my original translation is cited.

I'm a grad student at the University of Oxford where I'm the China lead for the Governance of AI Program, Future of Humanity Institute.

Introducing Cool New Resource: AI Impact Factors!

In case there was any doubt: no other country is more hyped up about AI than China. Exhibit Y: Leiphone’s AI Impact Factors Database dedicated to track every paper publication, competition result, development project, and corporate activity in the AI field.

Those who have been following my work know that I’m a big fan of metrics, stats, and comparisons. One question I always get is which Chinese companies have the top AI labs, so this week’s translation features a relatively new project from Leiphone (a leading Chinese new media platform that covers S&T, which we’ve used for ChinAI translations in the past). Earlier in the summer, they launched a database called AI Impact Factors (AI 影响因子):

The AI ​​Impact Factors is a database of the strengths of Chinese companies’ AI research institutes in three areas: conference/journal papers, dataset competitions and development projects. Its goal is to provide a comparison point for college students and practitioners. As part of the project, Leiphone has done monthly analyses of the main findings from AI Impact Factors. This week’s feature translation looks at the August review. Here are the main takeaways:

  • Leiphone’s process: they contact each company every month to ask them to self-report achievements in the three areas (papers, competitions, development project), and then they go through to check and organize all the data. They’ve done this each month since April.

  • Top-line finding from this month: “Tencent AI Lab continues to occupy the top spot in the August most active ranking with many papers. Alibaba, and Didi have also received attention with many papers.”

  • Tencent AI Lab had 19 articles accepted at the European Conference on Computer Vision; it also collaborated with the Tsinghua AI Innovation team (TSAIL - think Tsinghua version of the renowned MIT CSAIL lab) become the first Chinese champion in the history of the Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games “Doom” first-person shooter game AI competition. Alibaba had four papers accepted in the oral track of KDD (a prominent data mining conference).

  • The AI Impact Factors are a good way to keep track of key development milestones: according to Baidu's second quarter earnings report for 2018, in June, the DuerOS voice wake-up function was used more than 400 million times. As of the end of July 2018, the number of smart device activations equipped with DuerOS has exceeded 100 million units.

  • Lastly, they also track key moves by big names in the AI field. For instance, “Xiaomi announced that NLP “Ace/big shot” Wang Bin has joined as the chief scientist of Natural Language Processing (NLP) in the AI Lab.”

See the full translation of the August recap for more: August Review of AI Impact Factors: Tencent AI Lab Takes Top Spot Again

This Week's ChinAI Links

Check out my conversation with Jordan Schneider about China’s AI ambitions on the ChinaEconTalk podcast. If you go to the website you can find the full archive of episodes, which explore China’s economy and tech scene. I’ve listened to and would recommend the one on the Chinese rustbelt with Song Houze.

Pandaily is a news site, I believe with headquarters in Beijing?, focused on everything about China’s innovation.

Check out American Mandarin Society if you’re looking to upgrade Chinese language skills and learn more about China - they have a nice set of syllabi on various topics like the military and Chinese foreign policy.

Charlotte Stix, of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, has started a new EuropeanAI Newsletter that covers the AI ecosystem in Europe. Check out the first issue here!

Thank you for reading and engaging.

Shout out to everyone who is commenting on the translations - idea is to build up a community of people interested in this stuff. You can contact me at or on Twitter at @jjding99