Google to open Chinese artificial intelligence research lab

Google to open Chinese artificial intelligence research lab

Google selected Beijing, China, as the first spot for its artificial intelligence research center in Asia.

Fei-Fei Li, chief Scientist of AI/ML (machine learning) at Google Cloud, and one of the centre's leaders, announced the new Beijing facility in a blog post on Wednesday.

Google made a full entry into mainland China in 2000 with a search engine in the national language, but its video site YouTube was blocked there in 2009 as internet regulations tightened.

When Google abandoned the Chinese search market over government censorship in 2010, it seemed a remarkably principled act of self-sabotage.

The Chinese government aims to make domestic businesses more competitive on the global stage by supporting R&D in the AI field, and intends to strongly back autonomous driving in Beijing.

The Google logo is reflected in windows of the company's China head office as the Chinese national flag flies in the wind in Beijing
Google has had a touchy relationship with China for years over the country’s censorship laws

Opening a high profile AI research center in China is the latest move in Google's charm offensive.

The tech giant's AI Centre will be based in Beijing, where a team of researchers plan to fund and sponsor "conferences and workshops", as well as work "closely with the vibrant Chinese AI research community", it says.

The news comes amid Google's efforts to interest Chinese technology companies in TensorFlow. China has been focusing on AI technology lately and wants to turn it into a $60 billion industry by 2025. Cloud computing will be the way that most companies access AI and machine learning in the future. "Google is for everyone", Google CEO Sundar Pichai said previous year, "We want to be in China serving Chinese users". The centre will be led by Fei-Fei Li, who runs Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence Lab and heads the AI arm of Google's Cloud business, and Jia Li, the head of research and development for the AI division of Google Cloud. It also reintroduced its Translate mobile app to China earlier this year.

Like Google, most major USA information technology companies can not ignore the booming growth market that is China.

Google said it already had people in China working on some of its top global products, and that it wouldn't be adding new research capacity in the country if it were anxious about IP theft.




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