• Alibaba's AI Robot

Alibaba's AI Robot (Photo : Getty Images)

Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma expressed optimism that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) will enable people to do more things than they can think of, thenews.com reported.

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Ma said that using AI capabilities, machines will be able to do the work for humans.

"Machines can do what people can't. We must make machines our best partner, rather than letting them replace us," Jack Ma added. "We shall not be worried about how much the Internet is impacting traditional business. Rather, we have to use [the] Internet and AI to our advantage."

Ma made these pronouncements during the China IT Summit held in Shenzhen on Sunday, April 9, where executives of two other Chinese Internet giants Baidu and Tencent were also present, to talk about plans for a more intensive development of AI in the country.

The executives of the three tech giants believed that the industry will reach its golden age in the coming decades.

"We used to see artificial intelligence only as a way to improve our computing and processing abilities. But, actually, AI can use data for self-study and make our rules," Ma Huateng, chairman and CEO of Tencent, said.

AI enthusiasts around the world witnessed how AlphaGo, Google's artificial intelligence program, triumphed over South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol in a five-round match in March last year.

Jueyi, an AI program developed by Tencent, achieved a similar feat, winning several matches around the world.

"If we develop a simulator, define its parameters, let it fully explore, study and make mistakes, programs will make out how things work, far exceeding our imagination," Ma said, adding that a number of Chinese IT companies are developing AI in some cities.

In March, China's search engine Baidu set up a national deep learning tech lab in Beijing, where AI experts from Baidu, Tsinghua University, Beihang University and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology can work.

According to Li Yanhong, Baidu chairman, the Internet is only a precursor of things to come as AI will be the main focus of the future, where machines that can understand humans will be developed.

Baidu has poured huge money on AI-related technology such as image recognition, machine-aided study, voice recognition and driverless cars.

"AI will be a magnanimous industry and will last for a very long time. I'm certain that the industry will develop fast in the next 20 to 50 years," Li added.

The Chinese government has also thrown its support in the industry. , Zhang Yongqiang, deputy director of Zhongguancun Management Committee, said during another AI conference in Beijing last week, that the government has several policies that promote the AI industry, which is coming to a "new age."

Last year, the government issued a three-year action plan for the development of AI in the country.

According to the China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the AI market in 2016 was worth about 23.9 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) and it is estimated to reach 38 billion yuan ($5.5 billion) in 2018.