Google is planning to expand its artificial intelligence (AI) research to China by launching an R&D center in the Far Eastern country with the goal of tapping the local talent there, the search giant announced today. The new AI research hub was formally announced at the Google Developer Days event in Shanghai, with Google Cloud’s Chief Scientist for AI and machine learning, Fei-Fei Li, noting that the research center is the first such facility in Asia.
According to Google, the AI research center will be focused on exploring the basic concepts of this emerging technology, a task that will be taken up by a small team of researchers based in Beijing with support from the internet giant’s engineering team in the country. Fei-Fei Li also revealed that the company intends to grow the AI research team over the next few months after Google previously formed the group with a small number of AI professionals. The Google AI China will be led by Fei-Fei Li herself along with Jia Li, Head of Research and Development at Google Cloud AI, and the team will be responsible for publishing its own work in addition to supporting AI conferences and workshops in China through funding efforts. The launch of Google’s AI research center in China is notably one of the largest expansions of the unit across the world. Already, Google operates other AI research facilities in other parts of the globe including New York, Toronto, London and Zurich, which together aim to help advance the development of AI and contribute to the holistic welfare of the public.
The announcement also comes despite Google’s lack of full entry in China, where most of its services like Search, Cloud, Google Play, Gmail, and Google Drive are being censored as part of a broader effort by the Chinese government to crack down on foreign internet platforms that are deemed detrimental to the general stability of its socialist policies. However, AI is something that Google has been pitching to the Chinese government, which strongly supports AI research in the country. Beyond China, Google is also investing in AI efforts in other parts of the world, with its AI division having launched an offshoot in May of this year aimed at fostering AI startups. The Mountain View, California-based also infused $5 million into an AI institute in Canada last April.