Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Baidu swept the AI City Challenge, beating competitors from nearly 40 nations. Chinese companies or universities took first and second place in all five categories.

Wired Magazine, July 2021

The AI city what?

The AI City Challenge, started four years ago, aims to spur the development of AI for ‘real world’ situations to improve urban living. Things like counting cars travelling through intersections or spotting accidents on main roads. When it began US entrants (companies or universities) took all the top spots. This year, well, see above.

Surprised/Not surprised

The Chinese Government declared four years ago it wants to be the world leader in AI by 2030. It has invested heavily in smart city programs with hundreds of Chinese cities supporting pilot programs involving edge computing, camera and sensors using 5G wireless connections. Sydney Business Insights’ Intelligent Cities Index China 2020 offers a snapshot  of the various AI capabilities within China’s cities.

Tech race

This competition highlights the growing tech nationalism between the world’s superpowers.

Ultimately who will benefit from this tech revolution turned race? The incredible pace of inventions dazzles the imagination. It should also raise questions about privacy, cybersecurity and accountability – will the AI City Challenge include those criteria in next year’s evaluation?

Megatrends watch: impactful technology


This update is part of our Megatrends Watch series, which tracks developments that inform our six global megatrends….

Image: Derch

Sydney Business Insights is a University of Sydney Business School initiative aiming to provide the business community and public, including our students, alumni and partners with a deeper understanding of major issues and trends around the future of business.

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