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Chinese messenger. Why Lee Kai Fu is tipped to the leaders of the revolution in artificial intelligence
Material posted: Publication date: 20-05-2019
A Chinese inventor has learned to speak the gadgets Apple has led Microsoft in China – and stayed there to compete with America.

While millions of people digest the idea that in the coming decades they will lose jobs to robots, corporations, and whole countries compete to see who will be able to draw from the artificial intelligence technology for maximum benefits. The main conflict takes place between the US and China.

It is expected that by 2030, AI will make the world economy $15.7 trillion – and almost half of this money will have on China. New technology will raise the economy of America and Canada by 14.5%, while Chinese GDP will increase by 26%. According to Lee Kai-Fu is one of the key characters of the Chinese IT – this gap is due to the fact that at the beginning of the AI revolution maximum benefit from inventions gets is not the one who invented them, and the one who most successfully them applied.

Whether educated in the United States, recognizes scholars and higher education the leader in the development of the theory of artificial intelligence. According to experts, the top 10 AI researchers really work in USA and Canada, moreover, it employs 68% of thousands of the best scientists in the world.

But in China the conditions are ripe, necessary for the further the jump. Its growing digital economy and 800 million Internet users provide AI companies with powerful data streams, which the United States can not boast. Advanced neural network and the Chinese and the Americans, but the company China collect far more data: in China, the Internet enjoys over 800 million people with smartphones 525 million This allows you to collect 3 times more data on the use of smartphones, 10 times – about the use of food delivery, in the 50's on mobile payments and 300 times on the users of rental bicycles than in the United States.

Computer technology needed to transform these data in quality artificial intelligence today is on both sides, so now the development depends on the presence of specialists who will be able to manage such technologies and efficient business.

The Ancestor Of Siri

For the Chinese, Li Kai Fu – role model: the man who brought to China the Microsoft and Google and now has invested billions of dollars in the development of Chinese Internet startups. To the West, he is the Herald of impending dominance of China in the field of technology and people, largely for this superiority is responsible.

Lee was born in 1961 in the family of a Chinese historian, who was forced to flee to Taiwan from the Communist government. In 12 years of straight a's or in order to have the best education emigrated to the United States, which by that time had settled his elder brother. At Columbia University he had won fame as a computer Prodigy, and his doctoral dissertation at Carnegie – Mellon earned him the status of guru for the systems of automatic speech recognition.

If the light of a brilliant academic career, but his ambitions lay in the field of practice, so in 1990, he gladly accepted a job offer at Apple, where he engaged in applied projects on speech recognition. Steve jobs to collaborate was not possible – this was the period of exile of the founder of the company. Chief Lee was John sculley, the former Pepsi President.

In 1992 there were at TED, along with Scully showed on TV the first ever talking computer from Apple and at 33 became the youngest Vice-President of Apple.

Departments and technology founded by Li Kai Fu in the Apple, like returned to the company to Steve jobs, but to keep the Chinese developer failed: already worked at the main competitor of Apple in PCs – Microsoft. His work in "the Apple company" are to this day: for example, voice assistant Siri is a direct offspring of work Lee.

Expat in China

Since the mid-1990s, Silicon valley has come to see not only the inventor, but also a great leader. And since he was an ethnic Chinese and is fluent in the language, the company wanted to use it for the establishment and development of the Chinese market on their behalf. Intel asked him to head their Chinese office and research center, but a parallel proposal by Microsoft to create and lead their research headquarters in China was more convincing.

In 1998, Kai-Fu Lee became the managing Director of Microsoft Research China. He had to create self-sufficient innovation office of Microsoft in China, able to compete in terms of inventions and profit from the American headquarters. That tried to recreate on Chinese soil the conditions of the American environment, starting from the arrangement of office to democratic relations.

Team building started with, persuaded to return home 5 Microsoft engineers of Chinese origin. But to find promising young scientists in the Chinese environment at that time did not contribute to the development of computer science, was not easy. I got to travel around China in search of talented personnel, who often had to learn programming in notebooks, not on real computers. So managed to put together a team of 100 people and start research activities.

But much of the time Lee took diplomacy – the establishment of relations between Microsoft and the Chinese establishment.

Chinese youth loved Microsoft rich American company that makes Windows, but the Chinese government was with gates in a difficult relationship. The government tolerated piracy, allowing citizens to freely use hacked versions of Windows. Due to this, Chinese business received free tools and American tycoon has lost a solid profit. Microsoft wanted more rights – the government wanted more concessions.

Lee explained to his American colleagues: if you want an international company flourished in China, you need to be friends with the government. If it's on your side, will help you and properly use the legal system and to negotiate with the press. Otherwise, problems with the law will not be gathered and owned by the government, the media can set consumers against the company. So when bill gates first came to China to meet with local officials and business representatives, in advance, met with them to soften them prior to this visit and details instructed the founder of Microsoft.

The scandal star transition

Lee was able to successfully reconcile the contradictions of two parties, increase profits and develop new technologies in Chinese office. In 2000 he was recalled to the United States to appoint to the position of Vice President of global Microsoft. But future Vice-President wanted to stay in China, and Lee decided to move on to gaining momentum Google: for him she offered to open a representative office in China.

Transition employees from Microsoft to Google in the mid-noughties wore the scale of the epidemic: experts lured favorable terms, convincing calls to "change the world" and just the fact that they, unlike the unwieldy monopoly, was "cool". And patience Microsoft, specifically CEO Steve Ballmer, has burst, when to get out want Li Kai Fu – man from the very top of the Board.

In the legal Department of Microsoft is working more people than in research departments, and all their Ballmer unleashed on Kai Fu. First, they claimed that Lee is not entitled to work for several years at a competing firm, and then that he allegedly leaked secret information to the company. The affair received much publicity not only in the US but in the Chinese media. Unofficially, it was clear that the purpose of the claims one make exemplary punishment of the defector, to others it was nepovadno. However, Google lawyers have defended Li Kai Fu in court, and he was busy setting up Google China.

Lee started to favorite activities: search of young Chinese talents, building ties between sectors of the IT industry and development of corporate culture in the spirit of Silicon valley. The share of Google in the Chinese market of search engines has increased almost twice – from 16.1% to 31%.

However, over time, between the company and the government began to be conflicts because of the unwillingness of the search engine to comply with the requirements of the authorities and censor search queries. In January 2010, Google accused Chinese hackers in an attack on their American servers and announced the suspension of development in China. But Whether the advance has gone from the epicenter of the conflict, having left the company 4 months before the scandal and keeping good relations with both sides.

In late 2009 he founded Sinovation Ventures incubator Chinese startups in the field of e-Commerce, mobile Internet and cloud systems. The company is forging links between young Chinese IT entrepreneurs and venture capitalists like the co-founder of YouTube Steve Chen. Sinovation every year develops about 20 projects and runs about 5 companies.

When in the late 1990s, Lee opened the research Institute of Microsoft in China, the first day of application, filed by thousands of candidates. At the time of launch of the headquarters of Google China has already received 3 thousand hits. The day of the start of work Sinovation responded to more than 7 thousand people. And it's not that a private company If provided more favorable terms and acquired the status of an idol of Chinese urban youth.

Culture 996, cancer and revaluation of values

First work If the American University has become a work entitled "Apathy is the main enemy of America in the third century of its existence". Educated in the Chinese tradition, Lee criticized the hippie and too relaxed Americans. Although the computer revolution is largely made by the hands of former hippies, the entrepreneur emphasizes that the Chinese hard work is the key to the future development of technology and business.

The richest Chinese, Alibaba founder Jack MA, recently stirred the Western press praise the overtime work, calling it "bliss". He believes Kai Fu, the hard-working man knows.

When Lee hadn't time to do lessons in the evening, mother would Wake him up at 5 in the morning, and his older sister actually raised out of bed at 3 a.m. to prepare for school. Several decades later, while working at Google, every night he would Wake up at 3 and 5 hours to keep in touch with colleagues from the us office. Not to spend time walking, even installed the monitor and keyboard over the bed.

If in Japan, the government in the form of an order restricts the processing of staff turning off lights in their offices, in China the opposite – thriving culture 996 (work from 9 am to 9 PM 6 days a week). This work considers the competitive advantages of Chinese culture over Western. And by his example he tries to set the bar for all the subordinates: for example, we have a policy to respond to work emails within three minutes during the day and three hours at night.

However, Li Kai Fu, this approach did not pass unnoticed: in 2014, doctors diagnosed him with lymphoma stage 4 and 20 tumors throughout the body.

Now the entrepreneur for 58 years. He was able to overcome the disease, his firm is thriving, he is a very popular speaker. In China, Lee Kai Fu, speaking before students and youth, reading up to 300 lectures a year, and only in one social network Sina Weibo has more 50 million subscribers. In the West, its main audience – American IT leaders, the expert community in the issues of technology and Economics. But more often he has to say about AI.

If you can call AI–realist. He is not as pessimistic as Elon Musk saying people will be to robots what you're monkey – people. On the other hand, it is not as unreservedly optimistic as Google futurist ray Kurzweil, are convinced that robots will lead us to the singularity and immortality.

Li Kai Fu believes that AI revolution has two main effects. The negative is that most of the jobs based on the repetition patterns, will be replaced by robots – this will entail not only the impoverishment of white and blue collar workers, but also an ideological crisis.

Some economists believe that the massive loss of jobs is a myth, and that we will cope with this problem as well as his time had to cope with unemployment caused by the appearance of the steam engine or electricity. But Lee says that AI will create immeasurably less new jobs than to take away existing ones. In this sense, the most promising works for the masses, he believes those associated with human interaction – teachers, doctors, concierges and so on.

The positive effect of AI revolution is that individual players in the world economy, primarily the American and Chinese AI, the company can greatly increase their profits and status. To make it succeed from those who will have the best computers and the largest array of data about the people for the education of the neural networks. That is why Whether chose the most promising from his point of view – China.

Sergey Zhdanov


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