Google opens AI lab in China; Is tech giant really vying for Chinese talent?

The Google AI China Center is being opened at Beijing, which will concentrate on artificial intelligence research and employ researchers from China.

An artificial Intelligence project utilizing a humanoid robot from French company Aldebaran
Representational image of AI Reuters

Google has launched its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Center in China on Wednesday in Beijing, in spite of a complete ban on the search engine's services in the country. It is a big step in a bid to make its presence felt in the field of artificial intelligence and also gain a foothold in the second largest economy in the world.

The announcement was made at the Google Developer Days event in Shanghai. According to the statement, the AI centre will concentrate on basic research and will hire people based in Beijing.

This will mark as the company's first such AI facility in Asia, after the ones in New York, Toronto, London and Zurich. It will be managed by chief scientist of AI and machine learning at Google Cloud, Fei-Fei Li, who is a professor at Stanford University. Along with her will be Jia Li, head of research and development at Google Cloud AI.

Google has taken several initiatives to enter the Chinese market after all its services were banned in the country due to its inability to submit to government censorship. The same fate was met by social media giant Facebook.

Google Developer Days China 2017
Google Developer Days China 2017 Google

In a statement by Google's Alphabet, Fei-Fei Li mentions that Google is opening the center in China as they believe science has no boundaries. This statement comes during a time when China has already started making its mark in the AI field, coming close behind the US in the race for scientific advancements, especially in space and hypersonic weapons. With this initiative, Google plans to hire more Chinese researchers.

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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," says the statement by Li.

"The Google AI China Center is a small contribution to this goal. We look forward to working with the brightest AI researchers in China to help find solutions to the world's problems," she said. Chinese authors contributed 43 percent of all content in the top 100 AI journals in 2015, she noted.

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The artificial intelligence center in China is the first step that Google is taking to gain a foothold in the second largest economy in the world. It remains to be seen whether Facebook too follows in the footsteps of Google to gain some backdoor entry into China.

Related topics : Artificial intelligence