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The American tech giant, Google, has unveiled its plan to launch a new artificial intelligence research hub in Beijing, China, targeting the country’s local talent in the promising technology. The announcement comes despite Google’s products remain blocked in the country.

The research hub will be the first of its kind in Asia and will include a small team working out of its current office in Beijing, Google said in a statement.

It was learned that the artificial intelligence, especially machine learning, has become a field of extreme focus for U.S. tech-devoted Google, Microsoft, and Facebook and their Chinese rival Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba as they bid to lead what many describe as the future of computing.

Chinese policymakers have shown intense support for AI research and development in the country, but have carried out increasingly strict guidelines on international companies in the past year, including new censorship restrictions.

AI research has the power to increase developments in self-driving vehicles and automated factories, translation products, and facial recognition software, among others.

Google’s decision to launch a Beijing facility dedicated to fundamental research signals China’s AI talent, broadly viewed as being neck-and-neck with the United States in research competence.

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“I believe AI and its benefits have no borders. Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Beijing or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone’s life better. As an AI first company, this is an important part of our collective mission. And we want to work with the best AI talent, wherever that talent is, to achieve it,” Dr. Fei-FeiLi, Chief Scientist at Google Cloud, said in a blog post.

“Chinese authors contributed 43 percent of all content in the top 100 AI journals in 2015,” Li Feifei said.

“We’ve already hired some top experts, and will be working to build the team in the months ahead.”

Li said that Chinese engineers created the backbones of the winning groups in the past three ImageNet Challenges, an international AI competition to examine which computing technology works better at recognizing and categorizing pictures.

China’s great population and solid mathematics and sciences education have fostered an amazing engineering talent.

Google has two existing offices in China, with about half of its 600 staff working on global products, the company spokesman said.

The new facility in China will join Google’s other research facilities outside of its Silicon Valley center, including in New York, Toronto, London, and Zurich.

The search engine of Google and a lot of its services are blocked by China’s Great Firewall. However, internet regulators have recently permitted access to its translation product, one that has made improvements in accuracy by the use of the company’s AI research.

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