12 June 2018

CUHK Engineering Professor Wong Kam Fai Appointed in the First Batch of Natural Language Processing Experts of CAAI
The Only Hong Kong Scholar on the List

Professor Wong Kam Fai, Associate Dean (External Affairs), Faculty of Engineering and Director of Centre of Innovation and Technology of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has been appointed as one of the first batch of national experts by The Chinese Association for Artificial Intelligence (CAAI) under the category of natural language processing and understanding. A total of 61 experts were selected across the mainland and Hong Kong. Of those, Prof. Wong is the only scholar from Hong Kong. He will be joining local and overseas fellows, outstanding scholars, and senior researchers from industries and top universities in a gathering of collective minds to promote the nation’s artificial intelligence (AI) and technological improvements. 

As of June 2017, there were 2,542 AI companies worldwide, of which 42%, or 1,078, were located in the U.S while China ranks second with 592, or 23%, of global AI companies. Prof. Wong said that the AI race between the U.S. and China remains too close to call, though the U.S. is leading the way in the number of technology giants and corporates. In recent years, China has been investing massively in AI to transform and upgrade its traditional industries with technologies and driving the AI market to grow in the region. With the surge in AI research outputs and patents, AI in China is booming. 

Professor Wong believes Hong Kong plays a key role in strengthening the AI development of China, not only because it is a base for a diversity of international talent and innovative resources, but also because it has a highly internationalised business environment which will bring about many new bridging opportunities. All these can help mainland AI business expand and boost AI development in the Greater Bay Area.  Moreover, a number of local universities have been producing excellent research and professional graduates. CUHK is one of the world’s recognised AI research institutions, and the Faculty of Engineering is particularly active and mature in studying different aspects of the applications of natural languages processing (NLP). He hopes that through more academic exchange in CAAI, CUHK will continue to shine and stand out as Asia’s AI research and innovation hub. 

About Professor Wong Kam Fai

Professor Wong Kam Fai plays an active role as technology pioneer and leader of CUHK in promoting knowledge transfer and collaboration with industry. Back in the 1990s, his research on NLP and understanding laid the groundwork for Hong Kong’s first electronic Chinese newspaper company “Wisers” whose AI news clippings services are now widely used by the media. More recently, Prof. Wong’s research team has received a second-class award in Scientific and Technological Progress (Science and Technology) 2017 from the Ministry of Education (MoE). The winning project, “Development and industrialisation of ‘Bilingual Trilingualism’-based retrieval and understanding platform on large scale social media”, is in many ways beneficial to the development of internet information security and cross-border e-commerce related industries. It is a bilingual trilingualism-based retrieval and understanding platform on large scale social media that effectively retrieves targeted information from a complex web environment, which includes simplified and traditional Chinese, English, and Cantonese for Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents. Prof. Wong was awarded the Medal of Honour (MH) for his valuable contribution to the development of information and communications technology in 2011, and invited to be a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference early this year.

About The Chinese Association for Artificial Intelligence (CAAI)

CAAI is the only state-level science and technology organisation in the field of artificial intelligence under the Ministry of Civil Affairs. CAAI is devoted to academic activities and exchanges in science and technology in China. The six new development areas of its think tanks include researches of brain and cognitive sciences, machine learning pattern recognition, natural language learning and understanding, knowledge engineering, robotics, and AI systems. They are composed of both local and overseas fellows, outstanding scholars and senior researchers from industries and top universities engaged in the task of promoting the nation’s AI and technological improvements, which will lead to secure platforms for international trades. 

About CUHK natural language processing (NLP) Research

The Engineering Faculty’s research achievements in NLP at CUHK have been internationally recognised for years. Professor Xunying Liu from the Department of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management is recognised for some of his leading-edge computer speech and language processing. His research outputs led to several large scale speech recognition systems that were top ranked in a series of international research evaluations. These include the Cambridge Mandarin Chinese broadcast and conversational telephone speech recognition systems developed for the US government sponsored speech translation evaluations from 2006 to 2011, the Cambridge 2015 multigenre broadcast speech transcription system, and the CUHK 2018 automatic speech recognition system for those with speech impairment. Professor Lee Tan from the Department of Electronic Engineering has developed a set of computerised assessment tools for language and communication disorders which can be adopted by both adults and teenagers in a Chinese speaking environment. It facilitates the spread of and popularises the best and latest clinical practice and hence elevates the quality of rehabilitation services and special needs education.

Professor Wong Kam Fai
Professor Wong Kam Fai