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. But with China’s online growth accelerating, the search giant is reconsidering its stance: On Monday, it unveiled a China-based center devoted to artificial intelligence (AI).
Of all the fields that Alphabet — Google’s parent company — has been focusing on lately, it’s made some of the most progress in AI. Its U.K.-based DeepMind division is responsible for an outsized portion of that progress — its produced AI that can teach itself how to play video games, and AlphaGo, a computer program that became the first to beat a human professional Go player in October 2015.
Now, Alphabet’s acceping government funding from Beijing to advance its AI efforts. The company’s new research center will be led by Fei-Fei Li, who runs Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and heads the artificial intelligence arm of Google’s Cloud business, and Jia Li, head of research and development for the AI division of Google Cloud.
Google cited China’s growing academic and technical contributions to the AI field as one reason it decided to move forward on the project, and said that it’s looking forward to “working closely with the vibrant Chinese AI research community.”
Google isn’t the only company moving AI researchers to China. We’ve recently seen similar efforts from the likes of Microsoft, IBM and others as part of a new push from the Chinese government to upgrade the country’s technological abilities and to wean itself off foreign-made software and hardware.
Source: New York Times