Alibaba opens two artificial intelligence labs

Alibaba, one of the biggest Chinese tech companies, signed on September 19, 2022, a partnership with the University of Science and Technology of China and Peking University. This made it possible to formalize the launch of two laboratories specializing in research on artificial intelligence (AI).

Two new Alibaba-led labs in various branches of AI

While Chinese e-commerce is plagued by many difficulties, the Alibaba group, which specializes in it, has decided to turn to other sectors of activity such as cloud computing or artificial intelligence. As indicated by the South China Morning Post, the company has launched two laboratories that will be run jointly with two Chinese universities. The objective is to stimulate research around AI.

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A first laboratory, called the AI ​​Innovation Joint Lab, will meet the expectations of a joint project between Alimama, the advertising subsidiary of Alibaba and Peking University. Researchers will focus on all advanced technologies related to AI. It should be noted that Peking University is the first organization to have opened a school related to AI, 20 years ago.

The second lab will be operated by Damo Academy, Alibaba’s in-house research institute and the University of Science and Technology of China. It opened in Heigei, the capital of Anhui province located west of the city of Shanghai. This laboratory should focus on cognitive artificial intelligence, a branch of AI that strives to reproduce the functioning of the human brain. It includes, for example, technologies related to voice recognition and natural language processing (NLP).

Representatives of Alibaba and the University of Science and Technology of China signing a document.

Representatives of Alibaba and the University of Science and Technology of China have officially confirmed their partnership for the opening of a joint laboratory. Photography: University of Science and Technology of China.

China’s AI Research Faces Semiconductor Market Difficulties

The announcement of the opening of these two labs comes just days after Washington restricted access to advanced GPUs from Nvidia and AMD. A blow for China, which will have to deprive itself of components considered essential for the proper functioning of high-performance AI models. In addition, the Biden administration wants to put in place new restrictions, still related to the export of semiconductors to China.

To remedy these new difficulties, China is trying to reduce its dependence on foreign technologies, in particular by hiring out experts in the field. The objective is to be able to produce ever more powerful chips that can complement the supercomputers running the AI ​​models.

But a new twist could put the brakes on all this: the case of corruption in the Chinese semiconductor sector. In recent months, several players in the electronic components sector, including Ren Kai, member of the Board of Directors of the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), have been arrested. They are particularly suspected of having committed serious violations of discipline and laws », a terminology used in China to talk about acts of corruption.

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Alibaba opens two artificial intelligence labs

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