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Artificial intelligence

The world’s most valuable AI startup is … yep, Chinese

April 9, 2018

SenseTime, an AI-powered facial recognition company, is breaking funding records.

The news: Bloomberg says that SenseTime has raised $600 million from Alibaba and other investors at a valuation of over $3 billion, making it the world’s most valuable AI startup.

I spy money: SenseTime’s technology helps power China’s massive surveillance networks. The firm will use some of the cash to build at least five supercomputers to help track many thousands of live video feeds, boost staffing, and fund a push into autonomous driving and augmented reality.

And more money: Bloomberg reports that the firm is already in talks to raise more cash and is targeting a valuation of over $4.5 billion.

AI smarts: SenseTime has been hiring loads of AI PhDs, and since 2015 has published more papers at top AI conferences than American giants such as Facebook and Google.

China vs the US: The rapid rise of SenseTime and other big AI startups in China will give more ammunition to those who think the US urgently needs a national AI plan.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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