Caption: Skyscrapers dominate the skyline of China’s Shenzhen tech hub
For some time now, technology experts have proclaimed that the Silicon Valley era is over in America. When you consider that three-fifths of the largest smartphone companies on the planet are from China – not the U.S. – there is a legitimate argument which says China’s burgeoning tech industry is rapidly gaining on and even overtaking the original Silicon Valley. Shenzhen was once a tiny fishing village a short drive from Hong Kong. Today, it is a tech hub to rival that of the west coast of California. Some of the most innovative companies in the world are now based here.
According to the BBC, China’s research and development (R&D) spending is expected to overtake Europe this year and then America by 2022. In other areas, China’s tech sector has already overtaken the States. In terms of e-commerce and mobile payments, its industry is head and shoulders above America’s. Meanwhile, China’s venture-capital sector and a plethora of ‘unlisted’ firms are also verging on a level playing field with America’s. Experts predict that at its current pace, China could reach complete tech parity with America within the next 15 years, which is close enough to make the leading minds in American tech twitch with paranoia. Let’s take a look at some of the latest technological developments to come out of China.
Xiaomi’s bold move into app development
Chinese electronics company Xiaomi made much of its early fortune in smartphones, laptops and other consumer electronics ideal for the household. After unveiling its inaugural smartphone in 2011, it became China’s largest smartphone company in terms of market share within just three years. Last year, Xiaomi was ranked as the fifth biggest smartphone company on the planet. In recent times, Xiaomi has sought alternative ways of generating revenue from its low-cost smartphones and app development has proven to be a successful addition to its portfolio.
Xiaomi has partnered with a string of app developers to bring games to the Xiaomi app store which operates on its Android-powered smartphones and tablets. With an estimated 386 million active users on its Android devices, with more active gamers on mobile than the entire population of the United States, games such as Xiaomi Poker have helped put Texas hold’em in the spotlight of Chinese card players that may not have considered playing poker in the past.
Blockfolio: A firm believer in cryptocurrency
Caption: Cryptocurrency trading and investment monitoring is all the rage
DCM Ventures has long been an investor in burgeoning tech projects both in Silicon Valley and China. Founder, David Chao recently invested heavily in a platform designed to provide transparency and the bigger picture on cryptocurrencies. Chao is a big fan of cryptocurrency and believes digital assets and blockchain technology will prove to be the next revolution after the internet and mobile. That’s why Chao and DCM Ventures has invested in Blockfolio, a portfolio management app that allows cryptocurrency investors and traders to effortlessly monitor and manage their digital assets in one easy place.
The brains behind the Blockfolio software is a man named Edward Machado. The entrepreneur was a former professional Texas hold’em poker player, who’d play online and offline. He used some of his earnings and his fascination with cryptocurrency to devise an app that has rapidly become a world-leading platform for managing Bitcoin and other leading cryptocurrencies. At the touch of a button, users can receive up-to-the-minute prices of crypto tokens on more than 80 cryptocurrency exchanges, whilst providing detailed profit and loss updates on every investment. Blockfolio has also partnered with leadership teams of many emerging altcoins such as Dash, TenX and Civic, to provide development updates and potential trading signals that could generate significant returns on investment. Although China has recently ramped up its regulation of cryptocurrency, there are indications that the government could consider relaxing these rules longer term. This will position Blockfolio perfectly to take advantage of the raft of new Chinese crypto investors and traders coming to market.
China now a global hub for artificial intelligence
In 2017, half of all global investment in artificial intelligence (AI) projects was hauled by Chinese start-ups, amounting to more than $12.5 billion. A significant proportion of the money went on developing computer vision (CV) technologies. CV investigates how computers can be utilized to gain a deeper understanding from digital content such as imagery or video. Other aspects of CV technology are more closely linked to AI in terms of pattern recognition and learning techniques. In essence, CV technology attempts to help computers process and understand images and videos in the same way that a human’s vision does, educating computers to undertake tasks that humans do with the same efficiency.
Last year, an AI program was also making waves in the world of Chinese poker. The system, known as Lengpudashi, scooped a $290,000 prize following a five-day tournament. The AI program was up against a human team led by Yue Du, an amateur poker player that won the $5,000 buy-in no-limit Texas hold’em tournament at the World Series of Poker in 2016. Mr Du’s ‘Team Dragon’ comprised of computer scientists and investors who sought to apply their knowledge of poker game theory along with their appreciation of machine intelligence to try and outsmart Lengpudashi’s no-limit hold’em playing style. It is not the first time that an AI system had defeated human poker players, with several top professional players defeated in a tournament hosted in a Pittsburgh casino last January. The feat is particularly impressive given that, unlike games such as chess and Go, poker relies on complex betting strategies and an individual’s ability to bluff and play its opponents.
China’s bulging population has been a major reason behind its tech boom. Competition for opportunities in its tech hubs is fierce and young Chinese entrepreneurs are seemingly prepared to bust a gut to build trust and succeed. While their investment budgets are still dwarfed by their Silicon Valley counterparts, if ambition and energy has anything to do with it, China will continue to lead the tech way into the next decade.