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Former Google bigshot launches AI School in China


Former Googler Kai-Fu Lee has launched an AI school in China.

Kai-Fu Lee, Google’s former chief of operations in China and an AI-focused investor, has launched a school aimed at fostering AI talent in China— by the tune of a thousand new AI experts every year.

Lee announced the new venture this week, in a speech he gave at Peking University before 100 professors from Chinese schools of science and engineering. These professors will go on to form the core group of educators tasked with teaching the ropes of AI and machine learning to Chinese students.

Over the next four months, these teachers will receive AI training, thanks to the financial backing of  Sinovation’s AI Institute, the University of Peking, and the Chinese Department of Education.

“If these professors each teach a class of 400 students in fall and spring, that would graduate thousands of students for employment in 2019,” Lee said in an interview with WIRED.

Some of the freshly trained professors will then join phase two of the programme later this year, and help Lee and other top experts dole out advanced AI training to 300 gifted students.

The new initiative is in line with China’s  goal of becoming the world’s leading AI power by 2030.

According to the country’s Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, unveiled last July, China wants to harness AI  to improve its defence infrastructure , economy, and society at large. The government has already been actively supporting Chinese AI companies, which very often act as part of the state machine (and surveillance machine) rather than as independent corporations.

While China’s ambitions have sparked fears of an “AI arms race” with the US, Lee denied that to be the prism through which to look at his new project— labelling such an interpretation “narrow-minded.”

According to WIRED, he said that the two countries very often find themselves collaborating on AI and sharing key research on the topic. Plus, British AI guru  Geoffrey Hinton and his American colleague John Hopcroft will teach in Lee’s AI school. A West-East clash, this is (probably)  not.

Image via Google


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