SenseTime CEO says technical standards critical for AI industry growth

The lack of technical standards is a critical issue facing the AI industry, according to SenseTime CEO Xu Li. He says that establishing national standards based on accepted rules and specifications set by an expert panel would enable companies to compete on a level playing field, the South China Morning Post reports.

Recalling the first time he pitched facial recognition technology to Chinese immigration officials, Xu said officials had a perception of the technology’s accuracy which was 20 years old. They told him that its accuracy, even combined with a fingerprint, was only 53 percent. SenseTime’s facial biometric deployments at more than 40 railway stations and several airports have identified people with a near-perfect accuracy rate, according to the report.

“With standards, technology adopters can better understand the risk involved, just like credit worthiness for individuals and companies,” Xu says. “Providers of facial recognition can be assigned different trust levels, ranging from financial security at the top to entertainment uses.”

SenseTime has been selected by China’s government to lead the country’s efforts at innovation in intelligent vision, so Xu’s contention could soon be acted on. As an official national leader, SenseTime joins Baidu for autonomous driving, Alababa Group for smart cities, Tencent for computer vision in medical diagnosis, and iFlyTek for speech recognition.

“The quicker commonly approved standards can be set up, the healthier the industry will be,” Xu said in conversation at the recent World AI Conference in Shanghai.

He said that it is more important for effective standards to be created than where they originate, and that standards formulated in one country could be adapted to suit other countries’ needs.

The South China Morning Post cites a report from Gen Market Insight which predicts China’s portion of the global facial recognition market will grow from just over 29 percent last year to 44.6 percent in 2023.

Xu also said that government contracts only amount to roughly 20 percent of SenseTime’s revenue, or a little more than 30 percent including indirect dealings, while overseas non-government revenue also makes up 20 percent.

SenseTime is planning to extend its image recognition technology further into the automotive, medical, smartphone, and smart city markets, according to a recent report.

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