Alibaba will invest $15 billion in artificial intelligence

Alibaba will invest $15 billion in research and development labs and hire a hundred scientists across the tech nexus of the US, China and Israel as it strives to build its clout in artificial intelligence. Beijing aims for China to be the world leader in AI by 2030, and is putting money and policies behind its ambitions, spooking some observers in the US and Europe who fear their less bountiful government budgets may leave them at a disadvantage. Alibaba, with its roots in ecommerce, has branched into cloud services and AI applications ranging from targeted ads and shopping choices, to facial recognition. It benefits from data spun out of its businesses in payments, logistics and movies… The labs will focus on areas including data intelligence, internet of things, quantum computing and human-machine interaction… Assuming an annual R&D spend of $5 billion, the investment represents about 14 per cent of Alibaba’s projected annual sales. In absolute amounts, Volkswagen, the German automaker, last year topped an EU ranking of top R&D spenders with a €13.6 billion research budget, followed by South Korea’s Samsung with €12.5 billion. US tech companies Intel, Alphabet and Microsoft ranked next at €11.0 billion apiece. Alibaba billed the move as another step towards its goal of serving 2 billion customers and creating 100 million jobs in 20 years. 
Louise Lucas