Google is opening an Artificial Intelligence (AI) research center in China to poach the local talent and push its presence further in a country where its products are still blocked. In a statement, the U.S. firm said the research center is unique and the first of its kind in Asia.
Google AI lab – targets local talent
In a blog post, Dr. Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist at Google Cloud said, “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.”
She also stated that since Google is an “AI first company,” it is an important part of their collective mission, and thus, Google wants to hire the best talent across the globe to achieve their AI mission.
A former Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Lab director, Li would head the China-based team along with Jia Li, who joined from Snap where she was the head of research. In China, Google has deployed some of the best talent in the field, and presently, there are over 20 jobs open, notes TechCrunch.
Even though Google is blocked in the country, it is cementing its position in China by focusing on Artificial Intelligence. This year, the California-based company held a Go tournament in collaboration with the local authorities in eastern China. At the event, Google pitched its AI against Chinese world Champion Go Player – Ke Jie. Though the event was promoted globally, local media did not cover it well. Further, a few days back, CEO Sundar Pichai attended the conference run by the Cyberspace Administration of China, where he talked about the potential of Artificial Intelligence.
China in favor of AI, but not foreign firms
China has made AI a national priority, and thus, could benefit from the Google AI lab. In July, the country announced plans to develop an industry aiming to generate 400 billion Yuan (US$60 billion) of annual output by 2025 and become a world leader in the science by 2030. Even though China is in favor of developing Artificial Intelligence, it keeps tightening the rules for foreign firms who want to do business in the country.
Google is no exception as the search engine is already banned in the country along with its app store, Cloud storage service and email. Chinese regulators believe that the strict rules help in limiting the influence which foreign media and internet platforms can have on the socialist ideas of the country, notes Reuters.
Thus, Google will also face fierce competition from Chinese tech giants like Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu. Artificial Intelligence can be exploited best when combined with the huge set of user data. And, unlike the western firms, Chinese firms have access to the country’s 731 million internet users.
In addition, how well this latest move of setting up a Google AI lab goes with the U.S. government has still to be seen. A latest report from the Washington, D.C-based Center for a New American Security raised concerns over China’s rise as an AI superpower, something that could impact the American military by 2030.