China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba said on Wednesday that it will put a $15-billion investment over the next three years into a drive to build research hubs, while it is aiming to compete with world e-commerce, logistics, and cloud technology leaders.
The project is called DAMO Academy, which means Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook. Alibaba said that it plans to set up seven different research laboratories in Beijing, Hangzhou, San Mateo and Bellevue in the United States, Moscow, Tel Aviv and Singapore. It will recruit 100 researchers to staff them. The researchers will be working on artificial intelligence, quantum computing, the Internet of Things, fintech, and human-machine interaction, which includes machine learning and Natural Language Processing.
Different institutions will also collaborate with the researchers.
“The Alibaba DAMO Academy will be at the forefront of developing next-generation technology that will spur the growth of Alibaba and our partners,” said Jeff Zhang, who is Alibaba’s chief technology officer. The announcement was made during the company’s Computing Conference 2017 held in Hangzhou, China.
Additionally, the program will be guided by an advisory board that is composed of researchers and educators coming from top-ranking universities, like MIT.
“We are now looking for talented and driven researchers to join us in the quest for new disruptive technologies that would advance our every-day lives, benefit small businesses and narrow the technology gap to make our world a more inclusive place,” Zhang added.
Alibaba said that the program will make it possible for the tech giant to serve 2 billion customers and create 100 million jobs in two decades.
Alibaba, along with its affiliates, has been undergoing speedy expansions during the past year, making it a formidable enough rival of US-based Amazon.com Inc. It has also touched the waters of competition in global payments, cloud, and logistic firms.
The Chinese giant has already poured roughly $2 billion on investments to acquire a majority stake in Lazada.com, a Singapore-based retailer. This investment created a network of e-commerce hubs all over Southeast Asia in partnership with Ant Financial, its payment affiliate.
It has also chased a bid worth 1.2 million for MoneyGram, which is an American money transfer service. The deal is still pending, and is currently under fire from critics who say it poses a national security threat.
In Europe, the United States, the Middle East, Australia, Japan, India, and Indonesia, Alibaba has opened new data centers that were additions to its existing data science lab located in California. The efforts have been aimed at boosting its cloud business.
Alibaba presently employs 25,000 engineers on staff. According to it, the new research infrastructure will help them meet their long-term goals.
Meanwhile, experts have previously opined that China was transforming more into the research and development of top-of-the-line, hardcore, and cutting edge technologies. Last September, investment bank Goldman Sachs reported that China, which is also the world’s second-largest economy, has become a major contender in utilizing artificial intelligence to drive toward progress and advancement.
Baidu, Tencent, and other major Chinese technology firms have invested and set up research and development laboratories around the globe in order to develop new, innovative technologies.
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