In a packed ballroom in Beijing’s national convention centre, the executive from a major technology company laid out ambitious plans for the future of artificial intelligence in China. He explained how customised semiconductors would help power everything from autonomous cars to voice-activated industrial machines. Only this wasn’t a state-backed enterprise. This was Intel, the largest US chipmaker. The company’s AI chief, Naveen Rao, pledged to work closely, “engineer to engineer,” on cutting-edge technology with the 7,000 people that attended Baidu Inc.’s annual developers conference last week. Intel was the top sponsor of the event. Rao made no mention of politics, though his overwhelming support of Baidu, a Chinese national tech champion, sent a powerful message: Even as US and Chinese leaders are locked in a fierce battle over technological supremacy, companies like Intel remain big backers of China’s tech industry because they rely on the country for significant contributions of revenue, production chains and even talent. Intel made 27% of its revenue in China last year, more than in the US or any other market, but it’s fighting to hold on to customers there that it spent decades cultivating. Like many American multinationals with large businesses in the country, Intel… Read full this story
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