Google to open AI research centre in China

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China's government is laser-focused on controlling everything that happens within the country, and that means strict rules for foreign companies attempting to operate there.

Likewise, it seems that China, which is desperate to make the most of advances in AI, can not ignore Google's efforts in the field (see "China's AI Awakening").

The fight between tech companies for AI talent is fierce and global, with Google announcing today that it will create a new research lab in China dedicated exclusively to artificial intelligence. It will be helmed by Jia Li, head of research and development at Google Cloud AI, and Fei-fei Li, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and a chief scientist at Google Cloud AI.

Google already has similar facilities in New York, Toronto, London, and Zurich, but says this will be the first such center in Asia.

Google announced the launch of the center at a software developers conference in Shanghai.

One of the reasons behind this decision is that numerous world's top AI experts are based in China.

Google's new lab will face fierce competition attracting researchers, though, especially as local giants like Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba pour more and more money into the sector. All three winning teams of the ImageNet Challenge in the past three years have been largely composed of Chinese researchers. "Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Beijing or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone's life better". According to Li, 43 percent of the content in the top 100 AI journals came from Chinese authors in 2015.

Google said in a statement the centre is part of its mission to be an "AI first company". In China, Google has deployed some of the best talent in the field, and presently, there are over 20 jobs open, notes TechCrunch.