The supply of AI talent in China has fluctuated in the past few years, according to Liu Jingfeng, a senior researcher at Beijing-based technology think tank Jazzyear.
In 2017, AI firms in China – including the four “AI dragons” of CloudWalk Technology, Yitu Technology, SenseTime and Megvii – drove a hiring boom, riding on enthusiasm surrounding the use of computer vision technology in industrial scenarios.
As the fervour around computer vision cooled, however, the AI sector saw a plunge in talent, as many workers left amid declining salaries, Liu said. But the sudden popularity of ChatGPT has reignited investment interest in the field.
Still, it could be a tall order for Chinese companies and recruitment agencies to poach Chinese experts who have already left home, according to CGL’s Liang.
“Returning to China will be a high-cost move for these people, who will have to leave their tenure, cars, houses, and even families behind,” he said, even though companies are willing to offer salary packages of between tens of thousands to several million yuan to attract the right talent.
Despite the drawbacks, some Chinese researchers who have been working in Western countries may find the lack of a glass ceiling at home a major appeal, according to Liang.
The amount of opportunities still available in China’s internet sector may also be a big draw, he added.
“The Chinese internet market, regardless of its issues, is still very fascinating,” Liang said. “The speed at which China’s tech sector and the economy have grown in the past decade has produced way more surprises than what the overseas market could have offered.”
This article was first published on SCMP.