Huawei have announced a partnership with the University of California, Berkeley's artificial intelligence laboratory via their research and development unit, the Noah's Ark Laboratory. The new partnership will focus research into artificial intelligence "in all its forms" although Huawei's initial investment of $1 million is destined for research into deep, reinforcement and machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision. Huawei is making this investment to ensure it does not fall behind rival technology companies, such as Apple and Google and is being called a "strategic partnership into basic research." The University of California already has an extensive history of working with artificial intelligent systems and Huawei's involvement should benefit both organisations, but Huawei will not be alone: Berkeley already works with 11 other large companies (or "industrial partners") including Amazon, NVIDIA, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung and Sony, to name but a few. Huawei's pledge is to invest a total of $8.1 billion a year into research and development; the initial $1 million investment is relatively small in this context.
Artificial intelligent systems are seen as a cornerstone of "next generation" software, including operating systems, application suites and information systems. Current autonomous driving systems revolve around one or more aspects of artificial intelligent systems: self-driving software needs to learn how to drive, as whilst there are rules of the road, these are open to interpretation. However, natural language processing and computer vision technologies are already being extensively used around the world: natural language processing is used for digital assistants such as Apple's Siri and the Google Now voice assistant. Computer vision is embedded into Google Photos' search engine. A more visible example of artificial intelligence is Google's introduction of the Google Assistant into both the new Allo app and its own smartphone family, the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL. We've also seen how Google has used its own internal artificial intelligent learning software, DeepMind, to control the cooling and energy consumption of a number of its data centres, reducing the energy bills by a meaningful amount. Microsoft has invested heavily into "conversational commerce," which uses artificial intelligent systems designed to simplify the process of using computers. Microsoft are embedding artificial intelligent systems into several core products such as Office 365, camera application Pix and third party keyboard, SwiftKey.
Given the importance of artificial intelligent systems, it is no surprise that the investment into this technology is rapidly increasing around the world. Huawei is already seen as a progressive company eager to develop new technologies. The Chinese company has over 75,000 employees devoted to research and development and MIT Technology Review recently named it as the 10th "smartest company" in the world.