Google opens Chinese AI lab, says 'science has no borders'


Focused on basic AI research, the Center will consist of a team of AI researchers in Beijing, supported by Google China's strong engineering teams.

Seven years ago, Google pulled a few of its core services out of China, at the time saying it felt the government's surveillance and censorship didn't align with its commitment to a free and open internet.

China is clearly a hotbed of artificial intelligence research and Google would be foolish to not dip into that pool.

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 news comes amid Google's efforts to interest Chinese technology companies in TensorFlow.

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The announcement was made during the Google Developer Days China 2017 via a Google Blog post by Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist for AI and machine learning at Google Cloud. Encouraging this will help Google build connections to local businesses, as well as demonstrate to a wary Chinese government that its resources can still be put to good use.

She also stated that since Google is an "AI first company", it is an important part of their collective mission, and thus, Google wants to hire the best talent across the globe to achieve their AI mission. In July, Beijing launched a directive called the "Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan", which outlines a policy plan to turn China into a "primary innovation center" for AI by 2030.

This will mark as the company's first such AI facility in Asia, after the ones in New York, Toronto, London and Zurich. Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Bejing or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone's life better. This is why Alphabet's chairman Eric Schmidt has always maintained the position that the company "never left" the country.