Dr Xu Li - Co-founder and CEO, SenseTime
Innovation is a Journey of Unrelenting Commitment
“It is people’s unrelenting commitment that can accelerate progress in history.”
Dr Xu Li
Xu Li, born in the 1980s, set up SenseTime in 2014. In only five years’ time, he has led the company to become the highest-valued unicorn in the market of artificial intelligence and the frontrunner in China’s technological industry. He has always been wholeheartedly dedicated and morally obligated to innovation, just like the “Condor Hero” in Jin Yong’s novel.
Born in Shanghai, Xu Li pursued his doctoral degree in Hong Kong in 2010 and met Professor Tang Xiaoou from the Department of Information Engineering of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. They later collaborated in taking SenseTime on a journey of commercialising artificial intelligence and computer vision. From a scientist’s point of view, Dr Xu believes that a transformation in productivity would bring about innovations. Technology and commercialisation would be the two instrumental contributors to this process. Therefore, when SenseTime received its first round of investment in the amount of tens of millions of US dollars, Dr Xu and his team got two initiatives off the ground: massive recruitment of AI experts and procurement of hardware for building a supercomputing platform.
Talent is the Rudiment of Innovation
Personnel capital has laid the foundation for SenseTime’s thriving advancement. To Dr Xu’s eyes, SenseTime should strengthen its existing advantages in the areas of talent and research, until these advantages become unsurpassable by others.
In 2014, SenseTime brought to light the self-developed DeepID series of facial recognition computing technology. This technology boasted an accuracy of 98.52% and outperformed its counterpart introduced by Facebook. In 2017, at the CVPR, a prestigious academic conference for computer vision, SenseTime and the CASCUHK Joint Laboratories released 23 theses together, outnumbering those by Google—the technological giant well-known for artificial intelligence technologies.
A series of inventive breakthroughs, namely facial recognition, visual recognition, video analysis and unmanned driving, have made SenseTime a superstar company in the technology and investment worlds. The company has set up cooperate partnership with over 700 famed global entities such as MIT, Qualcomm, Honda, Ali, China Mobile, OPPO and Xiaomi. In 2018, upon completing a round of US$0.62 billion's worth of funding, SenseTime was valued at US$4.5 billion on a global scale. Meanwhile, SenseTime established the Hong Kong AI Lab as a cooperative venture with Alibaba and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, in the hope of creating opportunities for creation and entrepreneurship for Hong Kong’s younger generation.
Management Science in “Jin Yong” Style
Despite his scholastic background in science, Dr Xu gained his management knowledge from the martial arts novelist, Jin Yong. Dr Xu has always aspired to become a hero like the “Condor Hero” Yang Guo. “Yang often managed to talk his rivals into changing course and taking the same direction as his. This capability is pivotally important to any entrepreneur.”
By the same token, it takes unrelenting commitment and unconquerable bravery to take the plunge, just like Yang did. This is necessary if one wishes to bring hope and innovation, and create miracles and transform oneself, the company, and even humankind. “Is it heroes that make history, or history that makes heroes? I chose to believe in the former. It is people’s unrelenting commitment that can accelerate progress in history.”