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AI tech comes to the aid of social causes

By CHENG YU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-21 10:09

The fourth Light Technology Public Welfare Creation Camp, a science and technology public welfare platform launched by Tencent Holdings, kicks off in Lijiang, Yunnan province, in February. [Photo/China Daily]

Often, during his formative years, a 500-year-old majestic ginkgo tree that did not sprout leaves for two to three years at a stretch used to be a daily sight for Yang Zhongkai on his way to and from high school.

Since villagers widely regarded it as one that made their wishes come true, they used to kneel down in front of the "lucky" tree and burn offerings under it.

This, Yang recalled, led to prolonged heat exposure at its roots, stunting its growth.

"Millions of such old trees are in urgent need of protection given their importance as vital biological resources and symbols of ecological civilization," said Yang, the initiator of a team — Zhiyue — dedicated to protecting ancient trees.

"But the recording and management of ancient and famous trees nationwide commonly rely on Excel spreadsheets, which are plagued by information silos, lack of real-time updates and incomplete content," he said.

However, things have changed of late.

Yang and his team now leverage the artificial intelligence technology developed by Tencent Cloud, the cloud subsidiary of technology company Tencent Holdings, to identify and register trees accurately, based on individual traits and GPS tracking.

Yang and his team members are part of the fourth Light Technology Public Welfare Creation Camp, a science and technology public welfare platform launched by Tencent Holdings.

As one of the most influential technology public welfare platforms in China, the activity aims to encourage more people to solve social problems using scientific and technological know-how and open up more than 300 AI functions of Tencent Cloud to participants.

More than 3,600 teams and 18,000 developers have participated in this influential tech philanthropy platform since its establishment in 2020.

"With the acceleration of a new generation of technological revolution and industrial transformation, new technologies bring more excitement to philanthropy with emerging innovative scenarios. The boundaries of philanthropy have been significantly expanded," said Guo Kaitian, senior vice-president of Tencent.

"Digital technologies, represented by AI, large models, and virtual reality, will deeply impact philanthropy through platforms like the camp. Such efforts will create greater value for social development and human progress," he said.

Wu Yunsheng, vice-president of Tencent Cloud and head of Tencent YouTu Lab, said this year's camp has boosted access to Tencent Cloud's leading technological capabilities for developers, including digital tools ranging from AI, security, audio and video, smart customer service, intelligent translation, to open-source technologies.

"In addition to applying cutting-edge technologies such as AI and large models to assist in the development of traditional industries, the company also strives to promote the development of social philanthropy through technological and platform advantages," Wu said, adding that "the power of technology can change the world".

More developers, philanthropic organizations, and enterprises will participate in and jointly promote the innovation and development of philanthropy in China, Wu added.

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