Google to open AI lab in China

Google is setting up shop in China to capitalize on the country's talent in artificial intelligence in spite of a complicated relationship with the Chinese government.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon

China will be Google's first hub in Asia for AI development, the company said in a blog post December 13, 2017.


Google will open a new artificial intelligence (AI) research center in China to capitalize on the country's talent in AI, in spite of the fact that many of its products and services are blocked in China.

Google's parent company Alphabet announced the plan in a blog post Wednesday. The company said the center is the first of its kind in Asia and will consist of a small team based out of its existing offices in Beijing. The company has similar development labs in New York, Toronto, London and Zurich, according to the blog post.

AI is one of the hottest and most competitive technology fields today as companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft all vie for a piece of the action and search for the best talent to develop their technologies.

Google's move to base its development center for Asia in China is interesting given that Google's search engine has been blocked in China since 2010 after the company refused to adhere to government censorship.

But Google has been looking for a way back into China. Earlier this year, Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai visited China.

"I believe AI and its benefits have no borders," Fei-Fei Li, a Chief Scientist for AI and machine learning at Google Cloud, said in the blog post. "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. "