Hong Kong and Tsinghua universities partner to support AI innovation

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The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has formed a partnership with Beijing’s Tsinghua University to develop new technologies based on artificial intelligence, particularly for applications related to medicine, financial technology, and environmental protection, the South China Morning Post reports.

The initiative includes a new branch of the Institute of Automation being established at Hong Kong Science Park, and collaboration between the Ministry of Science and Technology and SenseTime to advance AI applications like intelligent vision and facial recognition.

China’s central government has supported Hong Kong’s efforts to develop innovation and technology as a way of diversifying its economy, which the SCMP reports is heavily reliant on the financial industry.

HKU pro-vice-chancellor Professor W. John Kao described AI as a “big sandbox,” and said that the field’s size and complexity makes collaboration necessary for innovation. He also said that HKU’s strength so far is applying and analyzing technology for medicine, manufacturing, and finance, while Tsinghua’s strength is in technical research and development.

“As Hong Kong is trying to reposition itself … what we really are looking at is not only the technological development, but the … [development of] a new breed of students and talents that can tackle both the technical question as well as the application question,” Kao says.

Asked by the SCMP about a recent U.S. congressional report advising authorities to review the export of sensitive technology to Hong Kong, Kao, who studied in the U.S. before joining HKU, said; “As a university, we will always be the champion of a freedom of knowledge exchange.”

Alibaba and SenseTime partnered to create an accelerator for AI startups in Hong Kong earlier this year.

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