Google to Open Its First AI Research Center in Beijing

Despite many of its services being blocked in China, Google has chosen Beijing as the location for its first artificial intelligence research center in Asia.

“The science of AI has no borders, neither do its benefits,” Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist at Google’s AI business, said in a blog post Wednesday announcing the new center.

But China’s internet borders are fortified by the so-called Great Firewall, and most of Google’s biggest products — its search engine, YouTube and Gmail — have been blocked by the country’s vast censorship apparatus for years.

Google (GOOGL) effectively left China in 2010, but the country’s 730 million internet users make it too large a market to ignore. The company has made no secret of its desire to find ways to rebuild its presence there.

Its artificial intelligence unit DeepMind teamed up with Chinese authorities to hold a five-day festival in the country earlier this year. The event focused on a human-versus-computer showdown in the ancient game of Go.

Opening a high profile AI research center in China is the latest move in Google’s charm offensive.

It comes just months after Beijing set out its ambitions for the rapidly developing technology, announcing plans to build a domestic artificial intelligence industry worth nearly $150 billion in the coming years.

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SOURCE: CNN, Sherisse Pham