AI Guru & SenseTime Founder Suffers Sudden Demise in China

Tang Xiao’ou, the founder of leading Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) firm SenseTime, and a prominent computer scientist, has passed away suddenly, the company announced. Tang, who was also an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and former professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, founded SenseTime in 2014. The cause of his death was not revealed.

  • Key Points
  • Tang Xiao’ou, founder of leading Chinese AI firm SenseTime and an influential computer scientist, has died suddenly.
  • The cause of Tang’s death, who was in his mid-fifties, has not been mentioned.
  • SenseTime was added to a US trade blacklist in 2019 over accusations of being an arm of China’s “military-industrial complex” and the use of its technology in mass surveillance.
  • In December 2021, SenseTime’s initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong was delayed due to new US restrictions, but the company successfully listed on the exchange before the end of the year.

Tang, who had received recognition for his significant contributions to AI, had an established background in American academia. He had earned his PhD from MIT in 1996 after completing his MSc at the University of Rochester in 1991. SenseTime emphasized in its statement that Tang was an “outstanding representative” in China’s AI sector, describing him as “knowledgeable, rigorous in scholarship, truth-seeking and pragmatic”. According to SenseTime, the company will continue to be inspired by Tang’s formulated mission to ‘insist on originality and let AI lead human progress’.

In 2019, SenseTime faced controversy as it was placed on a US trade blacklist, facing accusations of being an extension of China’s “military-industrial complex” due to its alleged utilization of their technology for extensive surveillance in Xinjiang, a western region in China. Moreover, the company’s IPO in Hong Kong was postponed in December 2021 after it encountered new US restrictions due to related accusations, but still, the company made a successful listing on the exchange before the closure of the year.