HONG KONG, May 2 (Reuters) - Chinese social media and gaming
giant Tencent Holdings said on Tuesday it will open an
artificial intelligence (AI) research facility in Seattle in the
United States, to be led by former Microsoft scientist Yu Dong.
Yu, who has been appointed as deputy head of Tencent's AI
Lab division, will run the new lab as well as spearhead research
in speech recognition and natural language understanding, the
Tencent, which owns the popular WeChat messenging app, is
Asia's most valuable company with a market capitalisation of
nearly $300 billion.
Shenzhen-headquartered Tencent is one of a number of Chinese
technology juggernauts that are stepping up efforts in AI
research. Tencent's WeChat has more than 889 million monthly
Tencent has more than 50 researchers and more than 200
engineers at its AI Lab in Shenzhen, which was established in
April 2016, according to the company.
China's "Big Three" tech firms - Tencent, Baidu Inc
and Alibaba - have been competing to attract top-notch
Yu, a speech recognition and deep learning expert, was the
principal researcher at Microsoft Research Institute's Speech
and Dialog Group before joining Tencent.
Baidu suffered a setback to its AI ambitions after its chief
scientist Andrew Ng resigned in March, shortly before Tencent
announced it has poached Baidu's former big data director Zhang
Tong to head up its AI Lab.
Yu is looking to build a team of around 20 for the Seattle
lab, according to Tencent.
(Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Richard Pullin)