By Jeff John Roberts and Adam Lashinsky
November 29, 2018

Hello from Guangzhou, China, where Fortune is gathering technology-industry movers and shakers from around the world to discuss artificial intelligence, business, and other cultural issues.

Some highlights:

* The investor Neil Shen remains high on China, his native country, relative to Silicon Valley, where the bulk of his business partners live. Shen is Sequoia Capital’s top person in China and one of the first to alert me to how badly Americans were missing the rise of Chinese innovation. He seems almost amazed that U.S. companies haven’t yet caught up to their Chinese counterparts in certain areas, particularly the “online-to-offline” sphere of marrying digital and physical commerce.

* Feng Zhao, a former Microsoft researcher who taught artificial intelligence at Stanford before it was popular (the late ’90s and early aughts), is now chief technology officer for the China-based global appliance maker Haier. (Two years ago, Haier bought GE’s appliance business, headquartered in Kentucky.) He says the company is moving toward an AI-based service model. In other words, it doesn’t just want to keep your milk cold—so 20th century—it wants to tell you when you need more milk—and order it for you.

* Chinese-born financial services executive Jennifer Zhu Scott made a fascinating point that speaks to the cultural challenges in the U.S.-China trade dispute. Americans decry Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property, she noted. In reality, Chinese steal each other’s intellectual property all the time. That’s a truism of doing business here: Companies expect their best ideas to be copied, forcing them to innovate more quickly and aggressively. Zhu Scott wasn’t making excuses—she’s pro-intellectual property—but her explanation is illuminating.

* Terah Lyons, who worked on AI policy in the Obama (and, briefly, Trump) White House, heads a group called the Partnership on AI, which counts major technology companies (including China’s Baidu) and non-profit groups (like the American Civil Liberties Union) as members. AI is experiencing what she calls a “Tower of Babel moment.” The partnership hopes to bring together all the interested parties to make sure AI is used responsibly. It’s a tall and exciting order.

There’s way more to report, but far more conferencing left to do. Please head to for the latest coverage of the Fortune Global Tech Forum.

Adam Lashinsky


You May Like