The Weekly Pigeon (October 21, 2018)

10-21 Brief

How is China innovating in AI?

Chinese tech giant Baidu has been invited to join a partnership of AI companies headed by Silicon Valley heavyweights Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft, established in 2016 to share best practices about AI development with ethics and academic experts. America and China, as first movers in AI development, will have the most influence over future ethical norms that will govern the field — but this may only be the next arena for competition. Meanwhile, China’s government has thrown its state capitalism behind AI development 100 per cent, with initiatives in education, tax credits, loans and government contracts.

How is China progressing in its war on pollution?

Researchers from Harvard, Tsinghua and the Harbin Institute of Technology have discovered that cutting down on formaldehyde emissions from vehicles and oil refineries, in addition to emissions from coal-burning, will aid in further reductions of wintertime smog in Chinese cities. Previously, overzealous efforts in reducing coal emissions had led to fuel shortages in households across freezing areas of northern China in over-hasty transitions to cleaner fuels. The top-down imperative to reduce pollution continues as the report from Ministry for Ecology and the Environment called out provincial officials in Jiangsu for not adhering to state standards.

How does alcohol feature in China’s new growth recipe?

China is in good spirits as it’s expected to become the world’s second largest importer of wine in the next five years, as resurgent demand prompts Chinese company Alibaba Group to invest $290 million in imported alcohol. Makers of traditional Chinese potent grain alcohol baijiu are also looking to export its product to the US market, as part of Xi Jinping’s re-evaluation of China’s export strategy. As per government planning, a $58 million sponsored college dedicated to the craftsmanship of making baijiu has been opened in Sichuan as a viable vocation for high school graduates.

 

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