ALREADY CHINA'S COMPANIES have at times edged out foreign rivals. iFlyTek has won major competitions for speech recognition and translation.

Two years before Microsoft did, Baidu, the Chinese Internet search company, created software capable of matching human skills at understanding speech.

This year the Shanghai bases startup Yitu took first place in a major facial recognition contest run by the United States government.

iFlyTek and other Chinese companies say the follow China's laws and protect user data. But they agree that the sheer number of users in China, plus the government's single minded drive to dominate the new technology, puts them at an advantage.

''China has entered the artificial intelligence age together with the U.S.,'' said Qingfeng, iFlyTek's chairman at the Beijing conference. ''But due to the advantage of a high amount of users and China's  social governance, A.I. will develop faster and spread from China to the world.''

An iFlyTek spokeswoman said the company had yet to receive required permission from the officials in Anhui, the Chinese province where it is based, to speak with the foreign news media.

IFlyTek is portrayed in the Chinese media both as a technology innovator and as an ally of the government.

Last year, iFlyTek helped prevent the loss of about $75 million in telecommunications fraud by helping the police target scammers, according to the Global Times, a nationalist tabloid controlled by the Communist Party.

Its articles quotes a Chinese security official as saying collecting voice patterns is like taking fingerprints or recording people with  closed-circuit television cameras, meaning the practice does not violate their privacy.

''We work with the Ministry of  Public Security  to pin down the criminals,'' said Liu Junfeng, the general manager of the  company's  automotive  business, at a conference in September.

Where iFlyTek gets it data is not clear.

But one of its owner is China Mobile, the state-controlled cellular network giant, which has more than  800 million subscribers, iFlyTek preloads its products on millions of China Mobile phones and runs the hotline service for Chine Mobile, which did not respond to request for comments.

Cars could be another major market, iFlyTek believes. China is pioneering a push into self-driving cars, which could heavily depend on voice technology.

In September, iFlyTek introduced a new product, glowing ellipsoid that mounts on a dashboard and listens for questions that it can check online, like car-mounted Siri. 

The Honor and Serving of the latest Global Operational Research on A.I. continues to Part 3.


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