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    Brainiac

    Big Data: 750 million

    This photo taken on December 4, 2017 shows people visiting the Baidu booth during the 4th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen in China's eastern Zhejiang province. The conference is held in Wuzhen from December 3 to 5. / AFP PHOTO / - / China OUT-/AFP/Getty Images
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    People visiting the Baidu booth during the 4th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen in China’s eastern Zhejiang province.

    That’s how many people use the Internet in China, and the data they leave behind could provide a big boost for Chinese companies seeking to design specialized artificial-intelligence chips. Well-financed startups there are racing with established companies such as Intel and Qualcomm to develop these AI chips, which identify patterns in consumer behavior to improve the performances of products ranging from air conditioners to cars. “Past Chinese efforts to dominate the chip industry foundered because of poor technology and political interference,” The Wall Street Journal recently reported, but gobs of government investment and the sheer volume of consumer data available to Chinese firms — with minimal privacy restrictions — may outweigh past disadvantages. “The potential is huge,” one industry analyst tells the Journal, “and the barriers, while real, can be overcome given enough time and money.”

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