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Google launches first AI research centre in China

Google's new AI research centre marks a stepping stone in the company's relationship with China.

By CBR Staff Writer

Google has opened its first Artificial Intelligence research centre in Beijing, China. The tech giant said its team will focus on “basic AI research” as well as support the existing research community by funding and sponsoring conferences and workshops.

Launched on Wednesday at a Google Developer Days event in Shanghai, the Google AI China Centre is the first such build from the tech giant in Asia. Google said it is recruiting new Artificial Intelligence experts to team up with engineers already in Google China.

“At Cloud, we see our enterprise partners using AI to transform their businesses in fascinating ways at an astounding pace,” said Fei-Fei Li Chief Scientist AI/ML at Google Cloud in a blog post, “As technology starts to shape human life in more profound ways, we will need to work together to ensure that the AI of tomorrow benefits all of us.”

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Prof Fei-Fei Li Chief Scientist AI/ML at Google Cloud

In the announcement, Prof Li pointed to the major contribution of Chinese scientists to the AI field as a whole; Chinese authors wrote 43% of all content in the 100 most prominent Artificial Intelligence journals in 2015. Prof Li will coordinate the new research alongside Dr Jia Li, Head of Research and Development at Google Cloud AI.

The new venture is a marker of success in Google’s somewhat uneasy relationship with China. In 2010, China removed Google’s search service internet censorship laws. In 2014, ProPublica investigation confirmed continued blocking of Google social media in the country.

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In August this year, Google told CNBC the company has “no plans” to bring its cloud services to China. In a strategic shift, Google have settled on launching the research hub after making a concerted push to market its TensorFlow Lite application to Chinese users, according to Bloomberg.

Chinese rival Tencent opened its own Artificial Intelligence lab in Seattle in May after it established its main research base in Shenzhen, China. As part of the US move, Tencent hired Prof Dong Yu who had been the principal researcher at Microsoft.

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Next year, Google will initiate its Iaas cloud services in Hong Kong. The tech giant already runs cloud operations in Singapore, Taiwan and Tokyo.

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