Megvii Chief Scientist Sun Jian dies. Leaves behind notable AI innovations on 2 continents
A bright mind in AI and biometrics, Megvii innovator Sun Jian has died aged 45 after a sudden illness. No more information has been released about Sun’s final days.
Sun had researched computer vision and computational photography for 13 years at Microsoft, leaving in 2016 for Megvii, then an AI and facial recognition startup. He became that firm’s chief scientist and managing director of research, according to the South China Morning Post.
At Megvii, Sun managed the development of Brain++, which became the company’s core AI productivity platform. He also oversaw the creation of a neural net, called ShuffleNet, optimized to work on mobile devices.
The Morning Post is owned by Alibaba Group Holding, one of three prominent financial backers of Megvii. The other two are Lenovo and fintech Ant Group.
Sun held 35 patents, most of which were awarded to him while working at Microsoft.
The news comes along with an update that Megvii has resumed working towards a long-delayed initial public offering on Shanghai’s Star Market. There have been many obstacles, including the company’s placement on a blacklist by the United States because it allegedly is aiding Beijing’s ongoing campaign to eliminate Uyghur as a culture.
Currently, the launch is expected to raise 6 billion yuan, or $890 million.
Technology trade publication TechCrunch has noted that Megvii, along with rivals CloudWalk, Yitu and SenseTime were known as the four AI dragons for how they dominated the industry and local facial recognition market, and how they attracted funding from the choosiest investors.
It has not been a shaded path for Megvii. Profit has been elusive. Since 2017, its cumulative loss is estimated at 15 billion yuan, or $2.2 billion, according to business publication Pandaily. There also have been controversies involving user privacy and data security.