The artificial intelligence community received a major boost recently with SenseTime’s history-making funding round.
The Chinese startup recently announced that it has raised $600 million in funding, a feat that has made SenseTime the most valuable AI startup in the world. A Bloomberg report also pegged the company to have a $4.5 billion valuation, easily dwarfing that of its rivals.
The Series C funding round is said to have been led by the Alibaba Group. Singapore’s Temasek and Chinese company Suning.com reportedly also invested heavily in the company.
⚡ SenseTime, a Chinese company that analyzes faces and images on an enormous scale, is becoming the world’s most valuable AI startup #tictocnewshttps://t.co/NzQrOMxz8f via @tictoc pic.twitter.com/0bCcVLprHC
— Bloomberg (@business) April 9, 2018
Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of the Alibaba Group, said in a press release that they are impressed by SenseTime’s pioneering AI work and R&D capabilities in visual computing and deep learning.
“Our strategic partnership with SenseTime will spark more innovation and create value for society,” Tsai added.
The massive investment appears to be further proof of how committed some companies and governments are in AI research and development, even if some academics and technology leaders have raised warnings about how the fast-growing technology could be susceptible to abuse.
The warnings didn’t seem to deter companies like Facebook and Google from investing more resources into AI. Apple even went so far as to poach Google’s AI head in a bid to improve its own chances.
SenseTime is known for developing facial-recognition technology that has been used in various industries, like security and financial technology. SenseTime is also the power by China’s impressive surveillance system. The company’s software assists in processing data accumulated by the country’s 170 million strong CCTV cameras. It’s also integrated into 100 million and more mobile devices.
SenseTime tech is also utilized in customer analysis systems and checkout-less lanes. There are even reports that the company is developing a program that can analyze data from thousands of live camera feeds.
The funding the company received will reportedly be used to bolster its AI platform and further its business ventures. The startup has revealed that it has already secured partnerships with about 400 companies, including Qualcomm on smart technology and Honda on an autonomous driving system.
The news that a Chinese-based company has been recognized as the highest valued AI company in the world might serve as a wake-up call for American AI startups. After all, China boldly announced last July that it aims to be the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030 and now it seems the country is well on its way to achieve just that.