Alibaba Group Announces New Research Institute
The massive Alibaba Group, best known for its e-commerce business, announced last month that it is setting up a new research institute dedicated to advanced technology development.
The new organization, announced at this year’s “The Computing Conference 2017,” held in Hangzhou, China, will operate under the name “the DAMO Academy.” (“DAMO” stands for “discovery, adventure, momentum and outlook.”) It will be focused on advanced computer technologies such as quantum computing, machine learning, basic algorithms and network security.
The DAMO Academy launches with a commitment by the Alibaba Group to invest more than 100 billion yuan (about $15 billion U.S.) in the organization over the next three years. It has also already set up partnerships with more than 200 research institutes and universities and has further started creating remote branches in Europe, Asia and the United States. These partnerships should provide the DAMO Group with access to new technologies and research breakthroughs without necessarily having to build up all the requisite talent initially from within DAMO or from China.
During “The Computing Conference 2017” event, Jeannette M. Wing, director of the Data Science Institute at Columbia University, and Michael I. Jordan, a scientist in artificial intelligence (AI) and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, were publicly introduced for the first time as members of the DAMO academic advisory committee.
This is just one of several enterprises of this kind recently launched by major Chinese tech firms. Baidu, the Chinese search engine giant, recently set up a research laboratory in Silicon Valley dedicated to AI plus the currently “hot” fields of big data and deep learning. Tencent, the games provider, video programs provider and maker of popular global chat platform Wechat, is currently in the process of establishing a Seattle-based AI research lab. Huawei, best known for telecommunications and its rapidly-rising profile as one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, also recently joined this kind of work, with a $1 million research partnership with UC Berkeley on AI.
The Alibaba Group’s $15 billion of funding may become the telling difference for this new venture, since that investment is much higher than what any of these other Chinese tech companies have put into their ventures. According to founder Jack Ma, Alibaba’s ambitions include a plan running more than 80 years from now. Ma also said the DAMO Academy is intended to outlast the Alibaba Group’s current e-commerce enterprises.
Many are wondering if the research and technology developed by the DAMO Academy will primarily benefit China and fuel its continued rise to power at the expense of the rest of the world or will it benefit all
How many academics and scientists outside of China could be helping to ensure their nation’s own future subjugation?
Too easily has the world forgotten what happened and is still happening to Tibet. Few seem to care about China’s land grab in the South China Sea or its ongoing incursion into Bhutan’s Doklam plateau.
$15 billion in research may give Alibaba some immense technological power. Can anyone ensure that the power won't be misused? Do we have any choice?
As the U.S. and other western countries fall further behind in research and scientific innovation, multinational mega-tech-corps are filling the void and becoming a force unto themselves.
Some of these huge companies just focus on amassing ever more money without any idea of what do with it all, like Apple.
Google has invested in a wide array of endeavors to benefit humanity while also becoming deeply entrenched in an elite power structure and using its search engine to shape the thoughts and beliefs of a vast portion of humanity by suppressing independent journalism and promoting an ultimately destructive agenda. It is also promoting transhumanism and redefining what it means to be human. By investing vast resources into AI, the day when our technology surpasses us and turns against us may arrive much sooner than technologist fear.
Wouldn't it be better for Jack Ma to invest a big portion of his vast wealth into saving our planet and a portion of humanity from the certain destruction we keep ensuring?