The founder of leading Chinese AI firm SenseTime and an influential computer scientist has suddenly passed away, the company said in a statement Saturday. “It is with an extremely heavy heart that we announce to everyone the sorrowful news: Our beloved founder… Tang Xiao’ou, due to illness that could not be treated, left us forever at 23:45 on December 15, 2023,” SenseTime said in an online post.
Tang, an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who founded SenseTime in 2014, was in his mid-fifties.
The specific cause of the renowned computer scientist’s death was not stated.
SenseTime was placed on a US trade blacklist in 2019, accused of being an arm of China’s “military-industrial complex” over the use of its technology in mass surveillance in the western region of Xinjiang.
In December 2021, the firm’s initial public offering in Hong Kong was delayed after it came under new restrictions by the US for related accusations, although it successfully listed on the exchange before the year ended.
SenseTime hailed Tang in its Saturday statement as “an outstanding representative in (China’s) AI field”, calling him “knowledgeable, rigorous in scholarship, truth-seeking and pragmatic”.
“The company mission he formulated, to ‘insist on originality and let AI lead human progress’ will inspire all SenseTime people,” the firm said.
Tang had extensive experience in American academia, earning a PhD from MIT in 1996 after completing an MSc at the University of Rochester in 1991.