Google looking to build its own team of artificial intelligence specialists in China

As the country sets out its ambitious goals to be the world leader in the field by 2030, the US tech giant is quietly looking to get its own foothold established

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 9:29pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 9:29pm

Google looks to be quietly forming a team of artificial intelligence experts in mainland China, according to the United States-based internet giant’s recent jobs listings online.

A check on Monday of the postings on social networking platform LinkedIn showed it had been recruiting since May for a research scientist, technical lead and software engineer in machine learning technology in Beijing.

In addition, there was another post for product manager in cloud machine learning that was first listed in June.

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence focused on computer programs that have the ability to learn when exposed to new data.

In July the Chinese government set out an ambitious plan to leap frog the United States and become the global leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. The core area of the sector is expected to be valued at 150 billion yuan (US$23 billion) by 2020, while AI-related fields are valued at 1 trillion yuan, according to the government’s forecast.

Research firm IDC has forecast worldwide spending on cognitive and artificial intelligence to reach more than US$46 billion by 2020, up from an estimated US$12.5 billion this year. Mainland China’s artificial intelligence application market is projected to grow 50 per cent year on year, outstripping the 20 per cent annual growth expected across the global market, according to a recent McKinsey report.

World dominance in three steps: China sets out road map to lead in artificial intelligence by 2030

Google, the main subsidiary of US hi-tech conglomerate Alphabet, did not respond to a request for comment or an interview.

The timing of Google’s recruitment drive for artificial intelligence specialists on the mainland coincided with its creation in May of a business division, called, dedicated solely to that field.

At Google’s annual developer conference held in San Francisco that same month, company executives announced a range of artificial intelligence initiatives. These included adopting machine learning to enhance Google Search and enabling Google Maps to automatically detect street signs.

Wang Jiaping, the vice-president at the AI Institute of Chinese venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, said Google’s ambition relating to artificial intelligence on the mainland does not only include hiring local talent, but also establishing a domestic business.

Sinovation Ventures, founded by former Google China president Lee Kai-fu, has also been ramping up its efforts in artificial intelligence.