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Alibaba Cloud Looks Towards an Inclusive Future Through Data Intelligence and Accessible Advanced Technologies
October 22, 2019 News


A month on from the Apsara Conference 2019, Alibaba Cloud’s annual flagship conference in Hangzhou, China, we managed to get viewpoints and thoughts from a few Alibaba Cloud executives on what transpired during the event.

To recap, the event was definitely a success, with participants from 109 countries across 6 continents, including over 200 world class scientists (including Nobel Laureate, Thomas Sargent) and 400 technology partners, featuring over a thousand tech-related topics in more than 30,000 sqm of exhibition area.

For Jeff Zhang, Alibaba Group CTO and President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, among the key highlights of the whole three-day event was the launch of the Hanguang 800 NPU, which he said was “a milestone in our pursuit of next-generation technologies, boosting computing capabilities that will drive both our current and emerging businesses while improving energy-efficiency.”

The chip is a neural processing unit which specialises in accelerating machine learning tasks. To date, it has already been adopted in Alibaba’s own business operations, in product search and automatic translation on e-commerce sites, personalised recommendations and intelligent customer service, among others.

“As a testament to its power, it used to take a machine one hour to categorise one billion images uploaded to Taobao daily. But with Hanguang 800, it now only takes the machine 5 minutes to complete the same task,” Jeff explained.

For current Alibaba Cloud customers, Alibaba has also launched the 3rd generation of X-Dragon Architecture which will be rolled out to millions of Alibaba Cloud servers around the world from next year and will increase their performance by five times in key metrics. In total, Alibaba Cloud announced 85 new products and features at the annual flagship Apsara Conference, making significant advancements in the company’s evolution to data intelligence and AI-powered cloud.

Alibaba Cloud has also announced its effort to fight hunger through its partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) by launching the “Hunger Map LIVE,” a ground-breaking global hunger monitoring system that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and data analytics to predict and track the magnitude and severity of hunger in over 90 countries in close to real-time.

The theme of this year’s conference was “The Rise of Data Intelligence”. In a group interview during Apsara Conference, Jia Yangqing, President and Senior Fellow of Data Platform, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, drew an analogy that “data is the new code”, as AI algorithms coming out of research labs are requiring more and more data. When Rongjin, Head of Machine Intelligence Technology, Alibaba DAMO Academy, explained why Alibaba is successful in turning ideas into commercialised products, he also mentioned the foundation of this successful business practice is data.

Without a doubt, the Apsara Conference 2019 has featured in cutting-edge technology and service implementation, customer application creation, and cloud ecosystem construction, according to Selina Yuan, President of International Business, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, who said that “it’s more than just a conference. It’s about exploring innovation, industry development and the future of cloud computing.”

Speaking from an ASEAN perspective, Selina explained that the mission of Alibaba Cloud is to make it easy to do business anywhere. Moreover, she said a key goal for Alibaba Cloud is to offer a leading technology infrastructure that benefits companies of all sizes and narrows existing gaps in the access to technology, ultimately making the world more inclusive.

“The announcements during the conference, for example the launch of Hanguang 800 is an important step in our pursuit of next-generation technologies, boosting computing capabilities and improving energy-efficiency. In the near future, we also plan to empower our clients by providing access to the advanced computing that is made possible by the chip, anytime and anywhere.”

“In the future, we will continue to promote inclusiveness through technology, so that customers can experience a world-class cloud system in terms of reliability, security, efficiency and interconnectivity,” she concluded.