Google‘s chief executive officer, Sundar Pichai, seeks to expand the company’s workforce in China where Google already has a small team that conducts research in the country. Pichai is resting the search giant’s artificial intelligence (AI) ambitions in China, which he hopes will play a major role in the company’s AI push in spite of the fact that many of Google’s services remain blocked. The Google chief revealed the company’s plans in China during the annual China Development Forum in Beijing.
In September last year, Google’s parent company Alphabet began looking for more AI experts in China as the company sought to fill a number of positions in the areas of AI and machine learning in Beijing based on the job listings posted on its career portal. The listings revealed more than twenty vacancies for positions in software engineering, research, product management, and marketing. Last December, Google also announced its plan to expand its AI research to China by launching a research and development center with the goal of tapping the local talent. Google previously announced the AI research hub during the Google Developer Days event in Shanghai, with Google Cloud’s Chief Scientist for AI and machine learning, Fei-Fei Li, describing the research center as the first such facility in Asia. Fei-Fei Li also previously disclosed Google’s plan to grow its AI research team in Beijing following its creation with a small number of AI professionals. The Google AI China team will be led by Fei-Fei Li along with Jia Li, Head of Research and Development at Google Cloud AI. In January of last year, Google and Chinese internet giant Tencent signed a patent cross-licensing agreement worth $500 million to jointly collaborate on a wide range of future technology projects including AI, adding to Google’s list of efforts to expand its Chinese work force.
Pichai’s statement comes despite Google’s lack of full access to the Chinese market as most of its services such as Google Search, Cloud, Google Play, Gmail, and Google Drive are currently censored in the country as part of a broader effort by the Chinese government to crack down on foreign internet platforms it considers dangerous to the general stability of its socialist policies. Nonetheless, Google has been pitching AI to the Chinese government, which strongly supports AI research in the country.