Artificial intelligence may still be in its nascent stage, but the technology has a bright future ahead as companies big and small continue to invest in it and develop their expertise, according to the a senior executive at Chinese tech giant Tencent.
In an interview with CNBC, Dowson Tong, senior executive vice president and social network group president at Tencent, said he was very bullish about A.I. and a big proponent of offering A.I. as a service.
"I am very optimistic (and) I am very bullish about the future of A.I. I think by having all these players, big and small, and each with their own expertise, we're going to see the whole industry prosper," Tong said.
Tong oversees business operation for Tencent's social networking platform QQ and Qzone, the music entertainment group and cloud computing.
A.I. encompasses a number of different technologies, including robotics and autonomous vehicles, machine learning and natural language processing, and deep learning. For example, Microsoft has a team of researchers in India that are working on ways to make a virtual assistants effectively bilingual.
Tong said beyond the recognizable tech names in China — Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — there are opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in China. Some such businesses are "very active, pushing the envelope of the technology (and) coming up with new services everyday as well."
Last month, Tencent opened a new A.I. lab in Seattle and appointed a former Microsoft scientist to oversee operations and drive the company's research on speech recognition and natural language processing.
Among other big names in China, Baidu already has an A.I. lab set up in Silicon Valley. Meanwhile, Alibaba recently expanded its big data and A.I. cloud offerings in Europe — the product handles huge amounts of data that lets organizations make real-time predictions. Uber rival Didi Chuxing in March announced an R&D center in Mountain View, California, to look into A.I. in security and intelligent driving technologies.
Experts agree that A.I. is set to unleash a new wave of digital disruption as adoption across various industries begins to pick up.