- On Monday, Facebook and Google announced investment plans in Europe. Facebook is investing more than $12 million in its AI research in France through a combination of increasing its fellowship program, opening datasets for French institutions and doubling its workforce to 60, according to a company announcement. It is also adding three community hubs to Spain, Italy and Poland to teach digital skills. In the next two years, the company will offer in-person and online training to around 350,000 businesses and to one million Europeans, with special focus on women, refugees and the elderly.
- Google will set up a new AI research center, increase its French workforce by 50% to more than 1,000 Googlers and open four Google Hubs across France to train more than 100,000 people in online skills annually, according to an announcement by CEO Sundar Pichai. In December, Google announced a new AI research center in Beijing to engage in the company's own AI work and also work with the growing Chinese AI community. Microsoft kicked off the wave of U.S. AI investments earlier this month with the announcement of a $33.8 million AI research center set to hire 200 members within five years in Taiwan, reports DigiTimes.
- Earlier this month, Beijing authorities announced plans for a $2.1 billion AI research park, which will have an estimated annual output of $7.7 billion and bring together about 400 businesses, according to Xinhua. Last year, Chinese social media and gaming company Tencent Holdings opened its own AI facility in Seattle, and the company signed a patent licensing deal with Google last week, reports Reuters. Chinese tech giant Baidu also announced last week that it was creating two new AI labs, bringing its Silicon Valley AI facility count to five, reports TechNode.
Silicon Valley may have symbolized the heart of the tech world for years, but hubs around the world are setting up new gravitational pulls.
China has emerged as the U.S.'s biggest technology competitor, especially in advanced technologies like AI and quantum computing. Large Chinese tech companies are increasingly planting their own flag in the U.S. market. Baidu and Tencent have an established presence in Silicon Valley, and Alibaba has potential to shake up the shifting cloud market.
Creating new AI and other technology-specific hubs around the world is important for equalizing access and promoting diversity. After all, a diverse group of researchers and engineers is more likely to reduce unintentionally programmed bias in AI systems.
But the AI talent pool is slim, and advanced AI positions typically come with a large price tag. Tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft have the resources to acquire the talent they need for these roles, but for the rest of the market the supply and demand curves may soon intersect in an increasingly unattainable place.