A warehouse in an industrial park about an hour’s drive north of downtown Beijing offers a paradoxical picture of China’s much-hyped, and increasingly controversial, artificial intelligence boom.
Inside the building, a handful of squat cylindrical robots scuttle about, following an intricate and invisible pattern. Occasionally, one zips beneath a stack of shelves, raises it gently off the ground, then brings it to a station where a human worker can grab items for packing. A handful of engineers stare intently at code running on a bank of computers.
The robots and the AI behind them were developed by Megvii, one of China’s vaunted AI unicorns. The impressive demo might seem like further evidence of China’s AI prowess—perhaps even proof that the country is poised to eclipse the US in this critical area. But the warehouse also points to a fundamental weakness with China’s AI. Amazon has been using similar technology in US fulfillment centers for several years.
Read the full article in Wired.