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China’s universities lay claim to AI field

Chinese universities are the dominant academic players in the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence and other countries need to ramp up investment in education if they want to compete, reveals a major analysis of global intellectual property.

A team working for the World Intellectual Property Organization crunched data on patents for more than 340,000 AI-related inventions and 1.6 million scientific publications dating back to the dawn of AI in the 1950s. More than half of the inventions came in the past five years, with the ratio of papers to patents shifting from 8:1 in 2010 to 3:1 in 2016, “indicative of a shift from theoretical research to the use of AI technologies in commercial products and services”, they say.

Major companies in Japan, the United States and China dominate patenting activity, the report, published on 31 January, found. IBM has a huge portfolio of 8,290 AI inventions, followed by Microsoft on 5,930, Toshiba on 5,223, Samsung on 5,102 and NEC on 4,406.

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