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Students set sights on AI majors

By LIN SHUJUAN/MA ZHENHUAN/XING YI/ZHOU WENTING/CAO CHEN/HE QI | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-16 07:48
Visitors check their phones behind the screen advertising facial recognition software during Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing, April 27, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Great prospect

Featuring machine simulation of human intelligence, including learning, reasoning and self-correction, AI, which is developing with robotics and virtual reality, has been considered a transformative business force globally.

Given the nation's focus on innovation, China aims to develop into a leading AI power by 2030 based on the surge in AI investments from domestic internet companies and others. Last July, the government issued the country's New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, which envisions China's economy, military and society invigorated and empowered by artificial intelligence.

Accelerating the education of top AI talent has also been listed as a primary task in the plan, with the development of AI resulting in a strong demand for talent well-versed in this technology. According to China's leading online recruitment company Zhaopin, AI algorithm engineers were the positions most in demand last year, followed by database development engineers.

In response to the national strategy, the Ministry of Education in April issued the AI Innovation Action Plan for Colleges and Universities. The plan envisions Chinese colleges and universities becoming the global frontiers in AI and hotbeds of AI talent by 2030, while 50 world-class AI textbooks, 50 national-level high-quality online AI courses and 50 AI research centers will be established by 2020.

Expectations ran high among prospective high school students and their parents early this year when many universities across the country set up new AI and related majors, and even AI research schools. At least 19 universities, most of them among the country's most prestigious, have added AI engineering as a new major for their undergraduate students, and the number is expected to reach 50 over the next two years.

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