Google continues partnership with China on AI despite trade war

Google is undeterred by the ongoing Sino-US trade war and China’s censorship laws.

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Google continues partnership with China on AI despite trade war

Despite numerous challenges Google faces in China, the US firm’s head of machine perception research Jay Yagnik says it remains committed to its pursuit of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions in the country.

Yagnik spoke at the recent World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai last weekSCMP reports, where he highlighted that two million Chinese developers have downloaded Google’s TensorFlow, an open-source machine learning software tool.

Engineering director of TensorFlow Rajat Monga told SCMP that Google has also been working to make more of its content on TensorFlow available in Chinese over the past year.

Overall, Google seems intent not to back down from its continued engagement with the middle kingdom on AI, and has previously announced the opening of an AI centre in Beijing in December, although Yagnik at the event said there were no “specific” further development plans for Google in China. He shrugged off a question about how the US-China trade war might affect Google’s business in the region by saying “The global landscape is something that evolves very rapidly.”

Both Amazon and Microsoft have also announced plans for building more research facilities in China at the same event.

Takeaways:

— US tech giants are increasingly looking to China to set up research centers and to tap on the huge market potential. But, as of now, it still looks uncertain whether they can successfully manoevre around China’s stringent censorship laws to thrive.

— These developments are showing a shift in dynamics in the global artificial intelligence scene. While the US is the current global leader in the global AI landscape, China has been hot on its heels and has ambitions to be an “AI innovation center” by 2030.

— Meanwhile, the US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is urging President Trump to devise a national strategy for the US to extend its lead in the global AI space, arguing that the US is not keeping pace with the ambitious plans of China and other countries.

Editor: Nadine Freischlad