I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Kai-Fu Lee’s forthcoming book, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, which Amazon tells me will be released on September 23.
Time to tie up a couple of loose ends from the past week, starting with a mini-review of The Badlands: more stories from Midnight in Peking by Paul French.
Earlier this week it was announced that China now has over 800 million Internet users – more than the population of every other county on the planet except for India. That represents a penetration rate of 57.7% according to the China Internet Network Information Center. Over 98% of the users go online with a smart phone; 566 million use mobile payments.
The streets near our office in Xindian were packed this afternoon with people making offerings to mark the impending arrival of Ghost Month. This officially starts tomorrow on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar (中元節), upon which all the ghosts and spirits are believed to emerge from hell to haunt the earth.
Back home in Taipei. My trip to Beijing certainly gave me plenty of food for thought. Judging by the size of my stomach, a tad too much perhaps!
Luckin has been gaining a lot of attention recently thanks to cleverly positioning itself as the plucky young David fighting to unseat the Starbucks goliath in the China coffee market. Except of course, having closed a $200 million funding round that gives it a $1 billion valuation, the company is hardly a little guy at all and has already opened over 500 outlets throughout the country.
I couldn’t resist a wry smile at the doomsday predictions of a future AI jobs apocalypse from the Bank of England’s Chief Economist yesterday after listening to senior Chinese government officials and university professors wax lyrical about the benefits of the future AI society at our China Children’s Computer Contest.
A fun day at the China Children’s Computer Contest talking with the students and watching them grapple with the mysteries of AI technology! Some of them had come from as far away as the western province of Xinjiang and taken 40-hour train journeys to attend the event. I decided not to bore them with my own tales of long-distance rail and bus journeys when I was studying in China in the 1980s. I suspect that my experiences are a lot more fun in retrospect than they were at the time.
An intense start to this year’s China Children’s Computer Contest sponsored by VIA and HTC. Today the venue moves to the gymnasium at Beihang University for the maker segment of the event.
Another perfect summer evening stroll, this time after over-indulging in the sweetest and tenderest ribs of lamb that I can ever recall eating at the Xibei Youmiancun Restaurant (西贝莜面村) in Wudaokou.