Inside the creepy and impressive startup funded by the Chinese government that is developing AI that can recognize anyone, anywhere
Two Chinese startups, SenseTime and Megvii, are becoming the world leaders in real-world deployment of facial recognition software, drawing eye-popping valuations in the billions of dollars.
The companies primarily have gotten attention due to their use by Chinese police to find criminals, leading some critics to wonder at how the technology is being used to further the country’s techno-authoritarian ambitions.
I recently visited Megvii’s offices in Beijing to get an inside look at the company. Its Face++ technology was able to recognize my face instantaneously once it was in their system. The demonstration was futuristic, cool, and unsettling.
Xie Yinan, Megvii’s vice president, told Business Insider that the company sees tons of applications beyond law enforcement, including in financial services, e-commerce, retail, and identity verification.
A computer system that can track and identify any face anywhere may sound like science fiction, but, in China, two such companies are barreling ahead at making such technology an everyday reality.
The two startups, SenseTime and Megvii, are developing competing facial recognition platforms powered by artificial intelligence.
SenseTime became the world’s highest valued AI startup after raising $600 million in April at a valuation of $4.5 billion. The company raised another $620 million last month. Megvii isn’t far behind. It raised $460 million last November. While the valuation hasn’t been disclosed, it’s likely that it is close to or tops $2 billion. Two smaller Chinese companies include Yitu Technology, which raised $380 million last year, and DeepGlint.
The eye-popping valuations shouldn’t be surprising to anyone paying attention. Last year, the Chinese government unveiled a plan to make the country the world leader in AI and to develop an AI industry worth $150 billion by 2030.
And the Chinese government has big plans to have a ubiquitous surveillance network that can monitor its 1.4 billion citizens. That has …read more
Source:: Business Insider