Google warming up to China again, announces new AI center


The research facility, which joins similar research centers in London, New York, Toronto and Zurich, will be run by a small team from its existing office in Beijing. It's also why access to Google's most popular services are for the most part blocked in China.

The announcement was made during the Google Developer Days China 2017 via a Google Blog post by Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist for AI and machine learning at Google Cloud.

Google's new lab will face fierce competition attracting researchers, though, especially as local giants like Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba pour more and more money into the sector.

Seven years ago, Google pulled a few of its core services out of China, at the time saying it felt the government's surveillance and censorship didn't align with its commitment to a free and open internet.

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In a blog post announcing the move, Li notes that the company is now hiring for positions at the lab-something media outlets picked up on a few months ago. The Google AI China Center will contribute to the same research goals as the other centers.

The Google AI China Center will also support the AI research community by funding and sponsoring AI conferences and workshops, and working closely with the vibrant Chinese AI research community. All three winning teams of the ImageNet Challenge in the past three years have been largely composed of Chinese researchers. According to Li, 43 percent of the content in the top 100 AI journals came from Chinese authors in 2015.

In its blog Google has shared that opening this new research centre has a very crucial role to play in its journwy of becoming the first AI company.

"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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