From robots to facial recognition, artificial intelligence (AI) has become part of everyday life and is reshaping the workplace. As part of China’s push to advance its high-tech industries, in 2017, the state council launched the Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan in mid-2017, outlining a national ambition to become a leading AI power by 2030. Soon after guidelines were established, Zhejiang Lab was founded in Hangzhou.
An initiative by the Zhejiang provincial government has seen Zhejiang University join forces with China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group. With 30 billion RMB in government funding, Zhejiang Lab was set up to meet industry’s AI needs. It aims to deliver original and innovative research in intelligent perception, computation, network and systems through major projects and building big science facilities.
“We want to create a novel ecosystem for R&D of new-generation digital technologies,” said Zhu Shiqiang, the lab director.
With the growing amount of big data and use of cloud computing, information security is becoming a major concern, and the lab’s intelligent network studies seek to tackle cyber security challenges. Mimicking defence theories and technologies offers a solution to industrial cyber security threats by using a dynamic, heterogeneity and redundancy mechanism. The Zhejiang Lab has established an industrial internet research centre to accelerate such technologies. By establishing cloud-based platforms and experimental sites for industrial internet, the lab is advancing intelligence-driven defence that is active and dynamic.
Zhejiang Lab has gathered researchers to develop open-source platforms and algorithms for distributed AI. Facilities to advance research on brain-inspired computing, human-cyber-physical integration, and quantum computing are also taking shape.
The three-way partnership makes Zhejiang Lab unique. In addition to financial support, the local government also provided 1,500 mu’s (approximately 247 acres) land for campus construction and research facilities to bring together pivotal players, Zhejiang University and the Alibaba Group. The university, a leader in basic research, will offer cutting-edge research; while the Alibaba DAMO Academy, a $15 billion research institute, will give access to the latest industrial designs and provide a quick testbed of research ideas. “By combining facilities and talents of the two research powers, and sharing resources, we hope to produce ground-breaking research and build an innovative industrial cluster,” said Zhu.
Zhejiang Lab has rapidly assembled high-quality talents to produce remarkable research. Its academic advisory committee is composed of members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Research teams are led by high-profile professors from renowned institutions, complemented by talented young researchers, post-doctoral fellows, as well as active engineers.
To facilitate the future of AI, Zhejiang Lab has recently kicked off a global recruitment drive to attract bright minds. It is looking for researchers, and chief scientists in machine learning, open source AI platforms, AI chips, cognitive computing, robotics and automation, big data, human-machine collaboration, intelligent network, and intelligent perception.
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