August 6, 2019
Alipay Foundation, Alibaba AI Labs and the China Women's Development Foundation (CWDF) today jointly announced the "A-Idol Initiative" to bring jobs-related to the development of artificial intelligence to underdeveloped areas in China, with a focus on prioritizing these opportunities for women.
The first phase of the initiative, launched in a ceremony held in Tongren city, Guizhou Province in Southwest China, will cover 10 poverty-stricken counties across China, benefitting approximately 2,500 households. Participants are entitled to free training courses on labelling and curating data, which is imperative to machine learning and the development of AI.
By bringing jobs to places such as Tongren, where more than 580,000 people live below the poverty line1, local residents, especially women, can be spared the hardship of relocating in search of better living and separating loved ones, a common issue in China’s rural areas.
“We believe technological innovation is only meaningful when it helps to make people’s lives better. The rapid development of AI, while displacing some existing jobs, has also brought about a great deal of new job opportunities. Making these opportunities accessible to women in underdeveloped regions is in line with our mission to bring the world more equal opportunities,” said Sam Zeng, Chairman of Alipay Foundation and Senior Vice President, Human Resources, of Ant Financial Services Group, the operator of Alipay.
Alibaba AI Labs will commit orders worth at least 10 million RMB annually to ensure the sustainability of the “A-Idol Initiative”, which also welcomes partners from both China and abroad. CDWF, a nationwide non-profit dedicated to improving the overall quality of women’s lives in China, will act as a recruitment partner to the program.
“The competence of data curators determines the accuracy of machine learning and the ensuing application of AI. We believe women can not only access more professional job opportunities from the ‘A-Idol Initiative,’ but also master new and critical skills in the digital era,” said Lijuan Chen, head of Alibaba AI Labs.
In addition, Alibaba AI Labs has designed a set of professional qualifications so that the skills acquired by participants through the initiative can be even more widely marketable.
About Alipay Foundation
Founded in April 2019 by Ant Financial Services Group, the Alipay Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to harnessing technology to resolve social issues and bringing more inclusive and equal opportunities to the world. The Foundation focuses on such issues as green and sustainable development, dismantling barriers to gender equality and bringing more development opportunities for women.
About Alibaba AI Labs
Alibaba A.I. Labs is dedicated to exploring the next-generation human-and-computer interaction and turning novel user experience into reality. The in-house R&D department focuses on the development of innovative AI applications across Alibaba’s commerce ecosystem and provides AI solutions to Alibaba’s clients and partners. With a world-class research team, Alibaba A.I. Labs focuses on both theoretical research and product commercialization in various areas, including speech recognition, natural language processing, voice print identification, deep learning, and computer vision. The Labs also focuses on developing AI products for consumers, including Tmall Genie, the first voice- controlled smart home assistant developed by the Labs.
1 Source: Guizhou Provincial Statistics Bureau