China’s prestigious Tsinghua University is opening a dedicated AI research centre. The Tsinghua University Institute for Artificial Intelligence will be led by Dean Bo Zhang (张钹), a Chinese Academy of Sciences academician; and Academic Committee Director Andrew Chi-Chih Yao (姚期智), a Turing Award Laureate. The announcement was made at today’s Tsinghua-Google AI Symposium in Beijing.
The Institute for AI will focus on fundamental theoretical study aimed at strengthening interdisciplinary collaboration and advancing the industrialization of AI. It will cooperate with other Tsinghua departments while working with tech companies such as Google, Tencent, Sogou, and Horizontal Robotics on core algorithms, new types of AI hardware, and more.
Tsinghua University President Yong Qiu (邱勇) believes universities should play a central role in AI research. “Today’s AI development still needs a fundamental theoretical framework, and it cannot advance without theoretical innovation. As a force for AI research. universities have a unique advantage in exploring fundamental research.”
An official Tsinghua University statement envisions the new institute as a world-class AI research center that will become a hotbed for technological breakthroughs, a platform for interdisciplinary innovation, a base for top-notch AI talents, and a vanguard in academic-industry collaboration.
Also announced at today’s event was the hiring of Google’s AI Chief Jeff Dean as a member of the Tsinghua University Advisory Committee on Computer Science. Dean expressed his intention to promote exchanges and cooperation between Google and China.
Google opened an AI center in Beijing just six months ago, taking a step toward the company’s return to China. The Google AI China Center has been actively expanding partnerships with top Chinese academic institutions including Peking University and the University of Science and Technology of China.
Also speaking at the two-day Google-Tsinghua AI Symposium was Chief AI Scientist at Google Cloud and Lead of Google China AI Center Fei-Fei Li, who told the audience “AI has no boundaries, and there is no boundary for AI’s well-being.”
The Google-Tsinghua AI Symposium featured 22 speakers and attracted 400 attendees. The agenda focused on the prospects for AI and its societal impact.
Business Insider reported yesterday on rumors that Fei-fei Li would leave Google. The story referenced Dr. Li’s controversial leaked emails warning the company of a possible media backlash against its research on the US military’s Project Maven, a collaboration many Google employees have been critical of.
Dr. Li responded publicly at today’s Tsinghua University event. “I will not leave Google,” she said, explaining that she will however return to Stanford University as an Associate Professor and Director of Stanford AI Lab this September.
A Google spokesperson told Business Insider that “Dr. Li’s plans for Google and Stanford remain unchanged… although when her sabbatical with Stanford ends, the amount of time she can spend with us will be reduced.”
Journalist: Tony Peng | Editor: Michael Sarazen
For a country where access to Google is blocked, it’s ironic that it tries to establish a so-called AI institute joint with Google. Google shouldn’t be involved with any activities with a country like China where its oppressive totalitarian government is trying to utilize AI technologies to monitor and suppress basic freedoms of its people online and offline.