Google's AI center in Beijing to become magnet for talent, capital

Updated 2017-12-14 09:34:12 Global Times

U.S. Internet giant Google Inc announced on Wednesday it is setting up an artificial intelligence (AI) research center in Beijing, a move that experts said reflects that China's AI sector is open to the world.

The Google AI China Center, the company's first such center in Asia, was launched at the Google Developer Days event in Shanghai on Wednesday, Feifei Li, chief scientist of Google cloud AI and machine learning, said via a blog post on Google's site.

"I believe AI and its benefits have no borders. Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Beijing or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone's life better for the entire world," Li said.

China has been opening up the AI sector in terms of mind-set and policy, and the central government is promoting technological research and breakthroughs, Xiang Yang, industry analyst at Beijing-based CCID Consulting, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"The return of top scientists to China will help form a significant AI hub in the country," he said.

In July, the State Council, China's cabinet, unveiled new guidelines for the development of the AI industry, which it hopes will motivate the sector to reach the same level as other advanced countries in terms of technology and applications by 2020.

The AI market scale in China is expected to surpass 150 billion yuan ( billion) by then, with the market of related industries exceeding 1 trillion yuan.

As an AI-first company, Google wants to work with the best AI talent, wherever that talent is, to achieve its goals, Li remarked in the post.

China was ranked at No.7 worldwide in its AI talent base with more than 50,000 such experts, according to a report released by LinkedIn in July. Scientists of Chinese origin have been rising into new force that drives AI growth, the report noted.

Chinese authors contributed 43 percent of all content in the top 100 AI journals in 2015, Li said in the post.

She arrived in the U.S. from China at age 16, and now works as the director of Stanford University's AI lab, CNN reported in 2016.

Google's AI center in Beijing will focus on basic AI research, which is supported by the company's engineering teams in the country, according to the post.

"Google has a strong talent base, and the new center will become a magnet for academic specialists and capital," Xiang remarked. "It will also help upgrade the whole innovative ecosystem in China," he said.

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