President has stimulated scientific connections

By Wang Mingjie in London | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-10-09 15:19

President Xi Jinping has a good understanding of big data and its social impact, said a top London scientist who met him during Xi's historic state visit to the United Kingdom in 2015.

President has stimulated scientific connections

Guo Yike, director of the Data Science Institute at Imperial College London. [China Daily]

Guo Yike, director of the Data Science Institute at Imperial College London, recalled the clarity of Xi's thinking.

"He certainly had a clear engineer's view of things, particularly in data analysis methods," Guo said. "President Xi engaged in all the applications and responded very nicely about my research topics. I could clearly see the engineering background of this leader."

As part of Xi's tour to the UK in 2015, he visited Imperial College London, where Guo presented a data-driven analysis of the Belt and Road Initiative's economic and social impact, and demonstrated how smart-city researchers are monitoring and analyzing mass transportation data on Shanghai's subway network.

"When I was talking about the Shanghai metro, he clearly saw that and said, 'this could be very useful for monitoring the possible risk'. So he understood it very quickly, and I think he is a wise leader," Guo said.

Though it was but a brief meeting, Guo was struck by Xi's amiability.

"I didn't feel nervous when he shook hands with me, and we were chatting a lot. I felt he was easy to talk to," Guo said.

A highlight for Guo came when he handed first lady Peng Liyuan a perfectly fitting new cape that was designed with the help of image processing technology that analyzed 700 photos of her.

That technology has important uses, Guo said.

"Now we have developed this technology much further. We need very few pictures to generate a 3D model, making it easier for online clothes shopping."

In the past decade, Imperial College London has become China's premier research collaborator in Britain. The college's Chinese partners include Huawei Technologies and scientific institutes at Tsinghua, Zhejiang, and Peking universities as well as the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The leading data scientist said Xi's visit to the UK brought China and the UK very close.

"His trip to Imperial definitely enhanced our relations with China from the research point of view and also from all sides," Guo said. "We're now pretty tightly connected with a lot of Chinese industries and Chinese universities, in particular in areas of data science and artificial intelligence.

He said Xi's visit came at a great time for AI and data science because it marked the moment when the technology was set to drive modern industry and modern technological development.

In the next five years, China is likely to surpass the United States and become the largest economy in the world while facing the challenge of changing its industrial structure, Guo said. He added that it will be important for China to leverage its current position and become a main driving force for innovation that focuses on original research, rather than relying on existing Western research results.

Zhang Yangfei contributed to this story


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