Category Archives: Artificial Intelligence

Singapore: AI in the Age of Plenitude

Tembusu Conversations is a new series of dialogue seminars presented at Tembusu College each semester. Dialogues with professionals from many sectors aim to familiarise students with technology advancements and financial, geopolitical, and social developments.

Dr Lee Kai-Fu, CEO of a full-service venture capital business and former President of a prominent internet search engine, sees the future of AI and automation as “plenitude” or the condition of being full/complete – as defined in the dictionary.

He outlined five prospective drivers. These five driving forces can function in silos to impact change, or they can come together synergistically, like with automation and energy, which are predicted to cut material and labour costs through autonomous robots.

Automation could make life sciences gadgets smaller, faster, cheaper, and more precise, thus, Dr Lee anticipates quantum computing to mature in the next two decades and power the next wave of innovation.

Recent advances in quantum computing put much of today’s encryption, including Bitcoin, at risk. AI will replace some jobs in the next decade, but it can’t entirely replace humans. This underlined the significance of finding and fostering career talents for intellectually difficult and long-lasting AI professions while embracing technology as a tool and collaborator in one’s work.

Dr Lee is optimistic that numerous prospects await other countries like Singapore. Referring to computer firms having local headquarters. With this, he encouraged young people to pursue careers with them, believing they would teach valuable entrepreneurship lessons.

NUS highlighted that the goal of AI is to create intelligent computers that can simulate human cognitive abilities, such as perceiving, learning, and problem-solving. In the past decade, advancements in machine learning have made artificial intelligence one of the most intriguing and rapidly evolving areas of computer science.

Even though there are still many unanswered concerns, several AI approaches are already mature enough to be deployed and utilised in daily life, such as voice-based assistants, self-driving cars, and automatic photo organising.

Tembusu College is one of four residential colleges located in University Town (UTown), which is an extension of the main Nationa University of Singapore (NUS) campus at Kent Ridge. The institutions, which are the first of their kind in Singapore and Southeast Asia, provide a unique alternative to undergraduate campus life.

Meanwhile, this year, it was revealed that NUS Computing Associate Professor Ilya Sergey and Assistant Professor Trevor Carlson were the recipients of a prestigious research award. The programme grants unlimited funds and promotional credits to academics that explore interdisciplinary research subjects.

Prof Sergey’s research proposal focuses on programme synthesis, while Prof Carlson’s focuses on expediting the Boolean Satisfiability (SAT) problem solution. This year, there were a total of 74 recipients from 51 universities in 17 countries.

Awardees will get access to more than 300 companies’ public datasets and will be able to use AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning services and tools. Under the supervision of a faculty member, the award will additionally support the work of up to two graduate or postdoctoral students for one year.

Prof Sergey’s research proposal integrates formal verification, distributed systems, and programme synthesis, fields in which he and his team have been conducting research over the past few years.

The synthesis job in this context is to automatically construct a model that correctly simulates the behaviour of real system implementation and is phrased in a way that enables automated proof of its qualities of interest, such as the crash resilience of a replication protocol. He said that the team’s method is the first of its type to use programme synthesis techniques to produce formal system specifications with the intention of verifying them.

SenseTime Unveils Four AI Platforms Driving AI’s Scalable Industrial Application Through Standardisation

SenseTime, a leading global artificial intelligence (AI) software company, hosted an industry forum themed “AI+: Meta-Innovation” at the 2022 World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) today. The forum gathered influential entrepreneurs, academic scholars and industry leaders to discuss how AI technology can empower and bring promising innovation to various industry sectors.

Dr. Xu Li, Executive Chairman of the Board and CEO of SenseTime, delivered a speech titled AI’s Yingzao Fashi: Innovative Industrial Manual, and announced four new AI platforms during the forum. The four innovative AI platforms covering different fields including AI cloud computing, vehicle-road collaboration, AI in gaming and smart hospitals, aim to drive AI’s scalable industrial application through standardized, more efficient, easy-to-use and low-cost platform services.

A number of honorable government officials attended the forum together with distinguished guest speakers who shared their views on how AI is changing the game across multiple industries, including Gong Ke, Executive Director, the Chinese Institute for the New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Strategies, Ning Guang, Academician, Chinese Academy of Engineering, President of Ruijin Hospital affiliated Shanghai JiaoTong University School of Medicine, Zhang Yongwei, Vice President and Secretary-General, China EV100, Li Qian, VP of Vehicle Intelligence of HiPhi and Qiu Zhijie, Vice President and Dean of School of Experimental Art, Central Academy of Fine Arts. 

Standardized AI Manual to Enable Scalable AI Innovation 

Inspired by Yingzao Fashi (Treatise on Architectural Methods or State Building Standards), the oldest extant Chinese technical manual on architecture originally published in the Song Dynasty, Xu Li shared his insights on how to achieve highly scalable AI innovation for a wide range of applications based on a standardized industry manual. He pointed out that many famous Chinese architectures, including Pavilion of the Old Drunkard, Foguang Temple and Pavilion of Prince Teng, were built by following Yingzao Fashi, which specified the ideal of universal standardization.

“These norms and consensus are gradually formed with the continuous accumulation of people’s experience through summary, model deduction and simulation.” Xu Li said in his speech. As AI develops towards commercialization, AI models become the standardized features for the intelligent era, supporting various applications such as advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), city management, surgical planning and intelligent agents in games, in which issues can be resolved through the same standardized AI models.  Currently, SenseTime has produced more than 49,000 commercial AI models, which can be grouped into different AI solutions for various industries.

A standardized production process is also needed to facilitate industrial standardization. Under this concept, SenseTime has achieved general AI capabilities with the standardization of AI model production, covering AI infrastructure, data labeling, pre-trained base models, and industrial applications. SenseTime’s automatic data production line increases the speed of automatic data labeling by 600 times.

“Industries cannot be formed without standards”, Xu Li said, standardization will lead to a flourishing AI industrialization. Through powerful infrastructure, we can produce high quality and standardized models with replication in various scenarios, as well as efficiently manage the whole process of model production. It is worth mentioning that standardization is not a constraint and will ultimately create infinite possibilities in AI applications.

Four New AI Platforms to Commercialize AI at a Large Scale

The SenseCore AI Infrastructure, as an innovative “Yingzao Fashi” developed by SenseTime, achieves highly efficient, low-cost and scalable AI innovation and empowerment for industries. At the 2022 WAIC, SenseTime launched four new AI platforms including SenseCore AI Cloud, SenseAuto V2X, SenseMAP Multi-Agent Platform and SenseTime Smart Hospital Solution, with the aim of accelerating industrial upgrades through various AI technologies.

SenseCore AI Cloud is developed into an out-of-the-box industrial-grade AI toolchain underpinned by the SenseCore AI Infrastructure. Without additional investment, it can facilitate AI infrastructure’s comprehensive digital management, effectively meeting the requirements for future industrial AI pipelines as well as the large-scale training, verification and reasoning for AI models. SenseCore AI Cloud can help customers double the efficiency of AI research and development with lower infrastructure costs by providing a full-stack deep learning platform and a series of advanced algorithm platforms and models. Essentially, it creates a new paradigm of AI cloud infrastructure that innovatively empowers various application scenarios including autonomous driving, smart city, AI for Science and Metaverse.

SenseAuto V2X is SenseTime’s vehicle-road synergy platform committed to providing a one-stop analysis and decision-making solution for future mobility by integrating “smart cars, intelligent roads and collaborative cloud”. Through the fusion control and analysis of vehicle and road information, it can achieve intelligent operation of “vehicle, road and cloud” platforms to improve traffic management efficiency. SenseAuto V2X can transmit sensory output from roadside sensors to the vehicle and empower intelligent vehicles with more comprehensive sensing capabilities to better adapt to complex traffic scenarios. Currently, SenseAuto V2X is deployed in the management of national Internet of Vehicles (IoV) pilot zones, closed parks, highways and urban traffic, facilitating the decision-making for traffic management with higher efficiency and safety.

SenseMAP Multi-Agent Platform is SenseTime’s tailor-made AI gaming production and operation platform. Leveraging the strength in computing power, deep learning and intelligent decision-making technologies, SenseMAP provides game developers one-stop full-cycle production services, covering auto-adaptation in gaming ecosystem, auto-creation of gaming content, and auto-operation of gamer community.. It has largely elevated the productivity of game development to create a better competitive experience for gamers. In the future, SenseTime will continue accelerating the diverse applications of AI in games and join hands with industry partners to boost the innovation and development of the game industry.

SenseTime Smart Hospital Solution provides a suite of smart services across various scenarios with the goal of delivering “patient-centered and quality-first” services. For medical professionals, the SenseCare Smart Health Platform provides high-quality, efficient AI diagnostic assistance throughout clinical processes; for patients, the Smart Outpatient Assistant can streamline the outpatient procedure and optimize the patient experience; for hospital operators, the Smart Management Service accelerates hospital operation and management’s digitalization; for research organizations, the Intelligent Clinical Research Platform facilitates R&D work and boosts research efficiency; and for regional-level medical alliances, the Smart Medical Collaborative Platform optimizes the allocation of regional medical resources. SenseTime is committed to leading the development of AI-powered smart hospitals and accelerating the digital transformation of high-quality hospitals.

The Industrial Ecosystem and Computing Power System Shapes Sustainable AI Future

Another highlight of the forum was that the Center of Computational Law and AI Ethics of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, International Finance Forum Sustainable Development Council, SenseTime, Terminus, the Kobe University Center for Social Systems Innovation and Singapore Artificial Intelligence International Institute (AIII) joined hands to launch the Technology for Sustainable Development Goals Alliance for Asia.

Upholding a vision of accelerating global economy with digital technologies and creating a better future, the Technology for Sustainable Development Goals Alliance for Asia is committed to promoting university-industry research collaboration, developing technology standards, studying industrial cases, and publishing research results to drive sustainable development in Asia. During the forum, the Alliance also presented a report on “Asia’s Balanced Development with Digital Revolution – Technology for Sustainable Development in Asia (2022-2023)”, which introduces the common vision and best practices of Asia’s technology for sustainable development, as well as the Technology for Sustainable Development Initiative for Asia 2030.

At the Intelligent Computing Ecosystem roundtable, Yang Fan, Co-founder, President of SenseCore Business Group of SenseTime had an in-depth discussion with Li Genguo, Director of Shanghai Supercomputer Center, Wang Guoxing, Professor at the School of Microelectronics in Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Xu Lingjie, President of Biren Technology and Deng Hui, Co-founder of Enflame shared insights on the future trends of intelligent computing and discussed the importance of bridging the talent gap.

For the past five years, SenseTime has joined hands with WAIC to explore AI’s infinite possibilities. Going forward, SenseTime will fully unleash the potential of its proprietary AI technology to build a sustainable AI ecosystem and create a better AI-empowered future through innovation. 

Meraque unveils Malaysia’s first plantation autonomous ground vehicle

Md Razalee Ismail (left) and Zuraida Kamaruddin (3rd from right), Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Malaysia, at the launch of Meraque’s first Autonomous Ground Vehicle tailored for the oil palm sector.

Meraque Services Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian solution company, has unveiled its first autonomous ground vehicle (AGV) for the plantation sector. The AGV has been named RACE, an acronym for Robotic Agro in Complex Environment. 

In a statement, Meraque said RACE was developed to reduce reliance on manpower and improve fertiliser spraying consistency in oil palm plantations.

With a high-power computing module in the brain, RACE is able to navigate its way autonomously between the oil palm trees, analyse surroundings for decision-making and routing as well as set boundaries using high-precision location points, it said.

Minister of plantation industries and commodities Zuraida Kamaruddin said, “New innovations such as Meraque’s RACE will help fortify Malaysia’s standing as a leading producer of agro commodity products internationally.

“It is a testament that our home-grown brands are more than capable of producing world-class solutions that have the propensity to solve real world challenges in the agro-industry.”

In 2020, Meraque claimed to have developed its first Malaysian hybrid spraying drone to spot spray fertilisers and pesticides in crops to circumvent diseases in plantations.

Its success sparked the idea for a locally developed AGV explicitly built to fit the needs of the local oil palm plantations, providing a solution to labour shortages, fluctuating yield, and high costs, it said.

RACE comes embedded with a load capacity of 150 litre (equivalent to 150kg) for its small-scale prototype, which is suited for strip spraying, the company said.

In contrast, the full-scale prototype is equipped with over 500 litre of load capacity to support both strip spraying and manuring activities. RACE can be integrated with other AGVs through its swarm technology and can navigate its swarm to complete projects expeditiously, in phases, it said.

Phase one of the project covers the AGV navigation spraying system in a complex environment such as the oil palm plantation to collect data and analyse patterns for AI training, Meraque said.

Phase two will see the configuration of the high payload capacity and manuring activities. The final phase is where the deployment of the swarm happens after integration with the swarm technology, it added.

Meraque chief executive officer Md Razalee Ismail said, “With Meraque’s plantation AGVs that are infused with artificial intelligence, we hope to build a better tomorrow for the agricultural sector helping more plantations in improving efficiencies, preserving yields, coping with labour costs and shortages, mitigating capricious weather, increasing production and maximizing profits, all while ensuring sustainable practices.”

Meraque claimed to hold the largest market share for drone spraying services in Malaysia.

The company said it is looking at training and hiring at least 500 local talents by the end of 2023 to meet the growing demand of the palm oil sector as well as other large agricultural sectors such as durian, rubber, coconut, paddy field, and pineapple. 

Earlier last week, Meraque announced its partnership with Malaysia Debt Ventures Bhd (MDV), a subsidiary of the Minister of Finance (Incorporated) to facilitate the growth of Meraque’s operations and expansion in Malaysia and the Asean region.

The key focus is on the agriculture, plantation, infrastructure and telecommunication sector, through MDV’s specialised financing facility, it said.

Blockchain Technology on the Rise in Vietnam

With an increase in blockchain technology applications and rapid, large-scale digital transformation, Vietnam has the potential to compete in the global market and become a hub for technology. It is estimated that by 2030, blockchain will create 40 million jobs, and 10-20% of the country’s economic infrastructure will run on blockchain-enabled systems.

Blockchain is a form of data storage and transmission technology using encryption. Its transparency in data sharing is the reason countries and the finance, logistics, and retail industries are investing heavily in its application. Earlier this year, Vietnam launched the first official legal entity for blockchain, the Vietnam Blockchain Union. It brings together enthusiasts for blockchain technology research and application throughout Vietnam.

Speaking at a recent event on blockchain technology, a representative from the union stated that the country is a leader in terms of encouraging research and application of new technology in everyday life. The government has supportive policies on digital development and transformation. The country is also open to exploring emerging technologies, allowing start-ups in the country to develop rapidly.

Experts believe that Vietnam could be a hub for blockchain projects, with many businesses, scientists, and engineers pursuing the research and application of the technology in the country. It is vital to create a legal framework for blockchain, create favourable conditions for research and development, and optimise resources. It is also important to revise the legal framework for international capital raising, making it easier for start-ups.

Vietnam is one of the five leading countries in blockchain, and there are currently about 10 innovative Vietnamese start-ups in the field with a capitalisation of over US $100 million. Among the top 200 companies developed based on blockchain technology, seven are founded by Vietnamese people.

The Vietnam Blockchain Union was established under a decision issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was set up to promote the nation’s digital economy, making Vietnam a top global contender in terms of emerging technologies. It connects blockchain organisations and communities around the world and enables members to share experiences and resources to research, test, apply, deploy, and trade blockchain technology. It also attracts investment for the blockchain industry and trains and develops digital human resources. As reported on OpenGov Asia, the Vietnam Blockchain Union aims to raise community awareness and guide the development of legal corridors, standards, and regulations in the application and creation of products and services on the blockchain technology platform.

Currently, blockchain is mainly applied in the financial sector, especially in digital assets and currencies. Countries around the world are forming policies and laws to regulate this technology. For example, the Central Bank of Indonesia recently announced plans to issue a wholesale digital rupiah, intended to be the only legal tender for digital transactions in the country. The Bank is exploring technical options with counterparts and working to enhance cybersecurity measures. The central bank digital will be distributed to large banks and payment service providers, which will, in turn, sell the currency to smaller banking institutions, enabling various retail transactions.

China firms packing more AI into their business models

Chinese firms are using technology to innovate business models that transcend prior paradigms while setting global standards in key areas of the new economy, an expert claimed on July 14 at a conference in Seoul.

Yet China has no choice but to embrace innovation, another expert emphasized, as the world’s most populous nation faces up to the burden of a rapidly aging population.

The experts were speaking at the two-day Asian Leadership Conference, which bought together leaders and professionals from across the globe in areas including geopolitics, geoeconomics, commerce and technology.

Edward Tse, who heads Gao Feng Advisory Co, which consults on issues related to China’s rise and role in the world, spoke about Chinese tech firms’ standard-setting presence in key areas of the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution, which conceptualizes rapid change to technology, industry and society due to increasing interconnectivity and automation.

Tse also detailed how three firms in three different sectors – online content, fast fashion and traditional Chinese medicine – have innovated their businesses.

Li Wei, the director of the China Economy and Sustainable Development Center at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, discussed automation and robotics, and pointed out how China’s problematic demographic trajectory demands intensive use of such technologies.

China is “very much on the cutting edge of these experiments on how to apply technology to business strategy and how to inform the business model,” Tse said. These experiments rest on a foundation of human capital that is both vast in scale and tech-savvy by nature.

According to data Tse presented, as of the end 2021, China boasted 1.04 billion internet and mobile internet users. 90.6% of Chinese third-party payments were conducted via Alipay and WeChat Pay as of July 2022 and 261 million people had used the wallet for China’s nascent digital currency as of January 2022.

“China’s digital economy has become massive,” he said. This is forcing firms to strategize on “how they can take advantage of these consumer patterns and improve their business models to offer better value propositions.”

The tools used are disruptive technologies including Artificial Intelligence, or AI, fifth-generation mobile, or 5G, big data, blockchain and digital payment platforms. In these and related sectors, China is shifting from follower to leader, the two experts claimed.

“For a long time, China was a follower of the standards set by others, and was very good at taking those standards and applying them to platforms,” Tse said. “Now, China is becoming a setter of standards for others to follow.”

When it comes to 5G tech protocols, national tech flagship Huawei “has developed a significant number of 5G standards which have become the basis for other 5G players to develop their technologies upon,” he said.

China is also leading the electric vehicle, or EV, sector. “It is not just about electricity, but about connectivity and intelligence and ultimately, autonomous driving,” Tse said. “China is creating a new lane…defining the industry standards.”

Then there are digital currencies. Chinese developments in this area “will have a profound impact, not only within China but also outside it” – including in the areas of digital supply chains.

But Tse says he is most interested in China’s fast-innovating business models.

Big data + AI = value creation

Tse put forward four key principles used by companies to innovate their business models via big data and AI: ubiquity, segmentation, interactivity and community.

Ubiquity comes from “accumulating a large database of loyal users,” Tse said. In China, “large” means at least 10 million, but the most successful are 100 million or more. “This is fundamental,” he insisted.

Once that is accumulated, segmentation is achieved by using AI to dissect big data, a process that can “target users on a one-to-one basis….intimately – even personally.” Interactivity is achieved through frequent touch points and active engagement with each user.

From there, communities can be developed. “They can identify people with common interests – swimming or studying books or young parents and so on,” Tse explained.

Another principle these companies use is in direct contravention of conventional commercial wisdom.

“The classic business teaching of strategy was core competency – focus on that and not move or diversify, and that drives many companies thinking in the West today,” Tse said. “But Chinese companies have inevitably gone through a series of jumps from one area to another as they see opportunities arise…they jump from the original business even if they don’t have the capabilities to operate in the new environment. But they move fast.”

He offered as examples three Chinese firms that have incorporated these principles.

Game changers

ByteDance is sometimes called “the world’s biggest unicorn” and is best known as the parent company of TikTok. The latter was the world’s most visited website last year, Tse noted, adding that other firms – including some in Silicon Valley – are trying to copy it “but not very successfully.” 

ByteDance started in 2012 with Toutiao, a news-delivery app, then “jumped” into Duoyin, a music-delivery app in 2016, before kicking off TikTok in 2018.

Everything ByteDance does is AI-driven. It continues to enhance its AI algorithim technologies with the massive amounts of data it receives from its huge user base.

It was one of the first firms not to rely on the user inputting data to the app: “It installed an AI-powered engine that can actually pick up your preferences implicitly through the way you use the app,” Tse said. “It’s pretty scary, but that is the way it works – this is information looking for people, not people looking for information.”

Users are guided through tailored preferences (“segmentation”) live streams with tipping and gifting features (”interactivity”), and online events backed up with offline communities (“community”).

The success of this approach is apparent in a massive user base – over 1 billion users per month (“ubiquity”) – and stickiness. “The app seems to know automatically what users want,” Tse said. “Through this, they can monetize this incredible amount of data through increased time on platform to work with advertisers on the app.”

SHEIN is an entirely different business – an online fast fashion house that, unlike competitors Zara, Uniqlo and H&M, is entirely online. It has a market valuation of US$100 billion and enjoyed $16 billion in revenues in 2021, according to data Tse presented. 

The Guangzhou-based firm jumped from brick and mortar to exclusively online. Its value proposition is shortening the time-to-market of fast fashion from a month to around two weeks.

On its frontline – online – it uses the four principles. At the back end, namely  manufacturing, it has established a C2M (“consumer to manufacturer”) cluster in Guangzhou, built around 300-400 core suppliers served by an exclusive distribution net.

AI and automation algorithms have enabled super-efficient supply chain management, enabling low pricing.

The firm has realized interactivity via social platforms and channels; ubiquity via its huge number of downloads (177 million in 2021); segmentation by offering fashion products based on customers’ personal profiles; and community via digital channels that build fashion communities.

Tse’s third case study was Tong Ren Tang Health – an unlikely candidate for high-tech transformation. One of the oldest companies in China, it has 353 years of history as a brand: It originally delivered Chinese traditional medicine nationwide via a brick-and-mortar network.

It has made multiple jumps since. The first jump was two decades ago when it added packaged consumer health products to traditional treatments. Five years ago, it became a “big health” player as an OMO (“offline merged with online”) company.

The digital platform it adopted, “leverages consumers’ profiles to build customized procedures,” Tse said. “Like ByteDance and SHEIN, they take data from customer interactions and develop customer-specific products.”

In terms of ubiquity, Tong Ren Tang now boasts half a billion users, served offline, through over 200 stores.

The systems engineered by all three firms “are pretty complicated and extremely confidential,” Tse said. Success is dependent on the skills of their data scientists and software engineers.

The ability to successfully tailor products and services, and apply that same knowledge to back-end manufacturing, sourcing and distribution, is the “closed loop that allows companies to be successful,” Tse said.

“With digital and AI and big data, a lot of things are done very automatically, driven largely by the sophistication of the algorithm,” he said. “That is the unique competitive advantage.”

China’s approaching demographic crisis

AI and big data are labor-saving technologies – and such technologies have always been feared, Li Wei observed in a separate presentation to Tse.

In a series of slides, Wei showed a pamphlet from 1812 encouraging laborers to destroy machinery; a 1935 article about a mechanical computer which alleged that “thinking machines replaces the thinker;” a Detroit headline from 1980 warning, “A robot is after your job;” and a 2016 US report on robots replacing assembly line workers.

Though machines can, indeed, replace humans when it comes to tasks but they are not replacing per se jobs: The only job to be eliminated in recent US history is the elevator operator, Wei claimed.

Yet tech fear persists. “Almost everyone is worried about jobs being stolen by robots, and AI is much more advanced than mechanical devices,” he said.

But robotization and automation have not ended employment, though how much impact these factors have had “depends on who you ask,” Wei said.

He showed a slide of estimates of the percentage of job losses as part of the overall labor force globally. While Oxford and PWC studies put these numbers at 40% and higher, four other studies by groups including the OECD and McKinsey put them at less than 10%

In addition to the challenge to labor presented by automation, a formerly male-centric global workforce has now been hugely expanded by the incorporation of women. 

“Almost half the human race is integrated into the labor force, en masse,” Wei said – but despite this, “In general, wages are rising.”

Countries with falling demographics and rising numbers of elderly are going to need all the assistance they can get from productivity increases driven by new technologies.

Especially China. The country experienced a baby boom in the 1950s and ‘60s, but, recognizing the problem of a vast increase in population, introduced family planning in the 1970s and instituted the “one child” policy from 1980-2014. Beijing reversed course with the “two-child policy” from 2016 and now encourages families to have three children.

These shifting policies led to “a large number of young people in the 1990s and 2000s” Wei said. But today, “kids are becoming very expensive to rear, so the forecast is a declining population.”

Wei’s data showed that, in comparison with the median ages of major nations, the average Chinese will by 2040 be older than the average American, European and Indian – surpassed in age only by the Japanese, who are silvering at a precipitous rate.

“This is going to put a lot of stress on society moving forward,” Wei warned.

For those Chinese worried about their future job prospects, he advised moving into healthcare. “We need people to take care of old people,” he said. “Nursing will be a high demand category in the future.”