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人工智慧

China pours millions into facial recognition start-up Face++
中國國有基金大舉投資人臉識別初創企業

中國企業曠視科技旗下人臉識別技術平台Face++在一輪投資中籌資4.6億美元。目前,中國正在大舉投資於研發人工智慧技術。

Chinese facial recognition start-up Megvii Face++ has raised $460m in an investment round led by a government fund, as the country pours money into efforts to become an artificial intelligence superpower to rival the US.

中國企業曠視科技(Megvii)旗下的人臉識別技術平台Face++已在一輪由一支政府基金主導的投資中籌資4.6億美元,中國正大舉投資於研發人工智慧技術,以期在該領域成為與美國抗衡的超級大國。

The Beijing-based Face++ said on Wednesday that it had raised money from China State-Owned Venture Capital Fund and the China-Russian Investment Fund, which is backed by the sovereign wealth funds of both countries. Private investors including Alibaba』s payments affiliate Ant Financial also participated.

總部位於北京的Face++周三表示,他們已獲得中國國有資本風險投資基金(China State-Owned Venture Capital Fund )及由中俄兩國主權財富基金支持的中俄投資基金(China-Russian Investment Fund)的投資。阿里巴巴(Alibaba)的支付業務關聯公司螞蟻金服(Ant Financial)等私人投資者也參與了投資。

Face++, which had a valuation of Rmb10bn ($1.5bn) before its recent round of investment, declined to reveal its post-fundraising valuation.

在最近一輪投資前,Face++的估值為100億元人民幣(合15億美元),該公司拒絕透露其在本輪籌資後的估值。

The company is benefiting from a plan laid out this year by China』s State Council to become the world』s unchallenged leader in AI research and applications by 2030, and a subsequent push by government-run venture capital funds to support domestic start-ups.

該公司得益於中國國務院今年出台的一項計劃,即到2030年成為人工智慧研究與應用領域的世界絕對領先者,也得益於由政府營運的風投基金隨後對國內初創企業的大力支持。

According to KPMG, the government has invested more than $1bn to date in early-stage funding for young start-ups.

畢馬威(KPMG)表示,迄今為止,中國政府已為年輕的初創企業提供了超過10億美元的前期資金。

「Investment from the 『national team』 [state-owned funds] means Face++ will receive much more policy support from the government, which will greatly benefit their development,」 said Leng Biao, professor of body recognition at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

「來自『國家隊』(國有基金)的投資意味著Face++將會獲得政府更多的政策支持,這將對他們的發展大有助益,」北京航空航天大學(Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics)從事人體識別研究的教授冷彪表示。

「But there are risks too, because national-team funding comes with restrictions on who can invest in them in future.」

「但也存在風險,因為國家資金注入帶有對未來投資者身份的限制。」

Face++ is pioneering technologies that are used by mobile payments company Ant Financial, which is trialling its software to let customers pay with scanning their face. It is talking to banks about the use of its software in their branches.

Face++是移動支付公司螞蟻金服使用的一系列技術的開拓者,目前該公司正在測試一種能夠讓顧客通過面部掃描完成支付的軟體。目前Face++正與多家銀行討論將這一軟體應用到他們的分行。

Last week, the Chinese start-up beat teams from Google, Facebook and Microsoft in tests of image recognition at the International Conference on Computer Vision in Italy, the industry』s major worldwide gathering.

上周,在義大利舉行的業界主要全球會議——國際計算機視覺大會(International Conference on Computer Vision)上,這家中國初創公司在圖像識別測試中打敗了谷歌(Google)、Facebook和微軟(Microsoft)的團隊。

But Face++ also is helping China』s police automatically track the country』s 1.3bn citizens and identify them in surveillance footage. 「We want to build the eyes and brain of the city, to help police analyse vehicles and people to an extent beyond what is humanly possible,」 the company said.

但Face++也在幫助中國警方自動追蹤中國的13億公民,並在監控視頻中識別出他們。「我們希望建立城市的眼睛和大腦,超出人為可能地幫助警方分析車輛和人員,」該公司表示。

The use of AI allows police to trace a target across multiple cameras in different locations. The government aims to be able to predict crimes before they happen by analysing patterns of movement.

運用人工智慧(AI)能讓警方通過不同位置的多個攝像頭追蹤同一個目標。政府力求有能力通過分析活動規律來預測犯罪行為。

「Every prefecture』s municipal police department [of which China has 294] has invested at least Rmb100m each into their facial-recognition surveillance systems,」 Mr Leng added.

「每個地級市公安機關(中國有294個地級市)都至少對臉部識別監控系統投資1億元人民幣,」冷彪補充道。

Unlike fingerprinting or retinal scans, facial recognition software can analyse targets without their knowledge.

與指紋或者視網膜掃描不同,臉部識別軟體能夠在目標不知情的情況下分析他們。

Since AI technologies require data to learn from, Face++ benefits from training its algorithms on China』s vast pool of cheaply available data — and from more relaxed privacy laws on the mainland.

由於人工智慧技術需要通過數據來學習,Face++受益於能夠利用中國海量廉價數據來訓練其算法,還受益於中國內地更寬鬆的隱私法律。

Its software can recognise people without them having given the company any information, since it links up to China』s national photo identification database of more than 1bn records — the largest in the world.

其軟體能夠識別出沒有向該公司提供任何訊息的人,因為其連接到擁有超過10億條記錄的中國國家照片識別數據庫——後者是世界同類數據庫中最大的。

Face++ opened its first overseas lab in Seattle in July, and poached Wang Jue, a principal scientist at Adobe, to head it. The company says it hopes to expand globally in future.

Face++今年7月在西雅圖建立了首個海外研究院,並從Adobe挖走首席科學家王珏來領導這個研究院。該公司表示,希望未來能在全球擴張。

Additional reporting by Yingzhi Yang

Yingzhi Yang補充報導

譯者/何黎

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