Google to open AI research centre in China

Beijing the location of Google's new AI research centre

Google opens first machine learning research lab in Asia with 'Google AI China Center'

"The science of AI has no borders, neither do its benefits", Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist at Google's AI business, said in a blog post Wednesday announcing the new center.

Li is known for successful research on AI systems for recognizing information from images accurately, quickly and at low cost.

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Focused on basic AI research, the lab will consist of a team of AI researchers in Beijing, supported by the company's engineering teams.

Despite Google's website, cloud services and video platform YouTube being now blocked in China, the company has continued to engage with the market. That has helped spur Chinese development thanks to the country's 731 million internet users, who typically provide more detailed information than Western counterparts.

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While the United States will continue to dominate the industry for the next five years, China will catch up "extremely quickly", Mr Schmidt cautioned during a USA think tank tech summit last month, adding the country would "use this technology for both commercial and military objectives, with all sorts of implications". Its services, including search and email, became unusable there.

By now we should know that Google is blocked in China, and only operate in Hong Kong. It didn't say exactly how many people it would hire, but it is still searching for new employees. This comes after its disagreements with the government in 2010 over its search engine.

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With AI talent in short supply, Google's latest push in China is also an opportunity for the company to snap up top researchers in the world's second-largest economy. The Google AI China Centre will also fund and sponsor AI conferences and workshops, collaborating with the Chinese AI research community. In May, its AlphaGo AI faced off in the traditional board game of Go against a Chinese master widely seen as the best in the world. Google does not have the biggest cloud computing business in the US, lagging behind Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM. Computing giants Apple and Microsoft aim to expand their businesses there by cooperating with the Chinese government. The same fate was met by social media giant Facebook.

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