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article imageGoogle announces AI research centre in China

By James Walker     Dec 13, 2017 in Technology
Google's announced it will extend its push into China by launching an AI research centre in the country. The company said it's opening the facility to access China's leading AI research talent. The move could also help it to access Chinese users.
The centre is expected to house a small team of researchers and several hundred Chinese engineers, Bloomberg reported this week. In a blog post, Google said its AI China Centre will help it to fulfil its mission of being an "AI first company." It's approaching the facility as a way to democratise AI development by extending it beyond borders.
The announcement is significant because of Google's strained relationship with China. The company's most successful services are generally blocked in the country. Google withdrew from the Chinese search market several years ago after refusing to concede to government censorship demands.
The decision to return to the country with a pioneering AI research hub marks a shift in Google's strategy. Along with its Silicon Valley rivals, the company is approaching AI as a way to unlock new opportunities, address societal challenges and grow its business.
The field is currently one of the most competitive in technology, driven by demand for skilled experts. Google said that the Chinese research centre will allow it to make new developments by accessing additional talent.
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"I believe AI and its benefits have no borders. Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Beijing or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone’s life better for the entire world," said Fei-Fei Li, Google Chief Scientist of AI and ML for Google Cloud. "As an AI first company, this is an important part of our collective mission. And we want to work with the best AI talent, wherever that talent is, to achieve it."
China is recognised as a hotbed of AI expertise that's regularly reflected in top machine learning challenges. Over the past three years, all the winners of the ImageNet computer vision competition have been Chinese. Google said the country also leads in scientific research, with China alone accounting for 43 percent of all content submitted to the top 100 AI journals during 2015.
Earlier this year, China announced a national plan for the development of AI. The country wants to be able to rival other countries and governments across the globe. Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba and Baidu dominate the local AI scene. Part of their success has been attributed to the data they collect from users.
Chinese consumers tend to provide more personal information than Western counterparts, giving AI providers detailed datasets to train neural networks with. Google's move into the country could allow it to start working with Chinese users, giving it deeper data reserves to develop new AI models with.
More about Google, Ai, Artificial intelligence, machine learning, China
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