The AI City Challenge was created four years ago with the goal of driving the development of artificial intelligence for real-world urban scenarios. In the first contests, American teams won prizes, but last year, Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Baidu surpassed competitors from 40 countries.
The presented technologies are designed to improve people’s lives, but some experts believe that they can become a dangerous tool for spying on citizens.
How is AI City Challenge – an international competition of smart citiesYana Nosenko
Chinese teams took prizes in all five categories, with ByteDance, which owns TikTok, ranked second in the competition to identify motorway accidents.
All of this was made possible by the Chinese government’s decades-long investment in the sector. By some estimates, China is home to half of all smart cities in the world. The proliferation of advanced computing systems, cameras and sensors using 5G wireless connections is accelerating the development of innovative surveillance systems.
The technologies presented in these competitions will also be useful for city planners. Counting the number of vehicles on the road allows engineers to determine the resources required to operate and maintain roads and bridges.
At one of the AI City Challenge competitions, participants were asked to identify cars on video recordings. This year, the descriptions were phrased quite clearly for the first time, for example, “a blue jeep drives down a winding road behind a red pickup truck.”
At the moment, China and the United States are the leading exporters of digital technologies. Last month, the Biden administration expanded the blacklist of Chinese companies launched by Donald Trump. Now almost 60 organizations cannot receive investments from American funds.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate recently passed the Competition and Innovation Act, which calls for multi-billion dollar investments in microchip development, artificial intelligence, and a reliable supply chain. The law also includes a provision on investments in smart cities, including expanding partnerships in this area with the countries of Southeast Asia (with the exception of China).
Photo in text: Zapp2Photo /
Stan Caldwell, executive director of the Mobility21 project, which is involved in the development of the smart city in Pittsburgh, believes that China is investing in research and development twice as much as the United States. In his opinion, this is precisely the key to maintaining competitiveness in the field of new technologies.
He also added that American AI researchers could compete for government grants such as the National Science Foundation’s Civic Innovation Challenge or the US Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. According to a recent report, a $ 50 million grant from the US Department of Transportation to the city of Columbus, Ohio, never met its goal.
“We want technology to develop. They will improve the safety, efficiency and environmental friendliness of life. It may sound selfish, but we want these technologies to develop here and improve our country’s economy, ”says Caldwell.
Representatives from Alibaba and Baidu declined to comment, but their successes will definitely contribute to a new influx of commercial offers for both companies. More than a thousand traffic lights in Hangzhou are equipped with Alibaba’s City Brain system. It has already proven its effectiveness – thanks to the introduction of AI, the number of traffic jams has been significantly reduced.
Photo in text: DedMityay /
Chinese companies have also excelled in other categories of the US-sponsored competition. For example, Megvii has done well in facial recognition accuracy tests conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The US is also encouraging AI researchers to develop smart city surveillance technology through the ASAPS competition. It helps emergency operators predict when they should send an ambulance, fire engine, or police.
In this competition, teams analyze a combination of text, photo and video data, as well as posts on Facebook and Twitter.
Garofolo, a senior advisor to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, previously worked with intelligence agencies and the White House on projects to analyze multiple video streams. He spearheaded the creation of the ASAPS dataset, which he likened to the creation of a Hollywood movie.
As part of the AI City Challenge workshop, Garofolo showed a video clip from ASAPS data of people leaving the scene of the shooting, matching the footage with fictitious Twitter posts.
He said last year that the results of the competition showed the need to invest more in the AI sector in the US. Knowledge sharing continues to be very important to the scientific community, along with the development of US-based talent.
Cover photo: Unsplash
Source: RB.RU by rb.ru.
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