Alibaba unveils 3-year $15bn technology investment plan

Alibaba launches research arm for AI, quantum computing, and other emerging tech

Ecommerce giant Alibaba is furthering its push into new technologies such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence with a $15 billion initiative that will "launch eight research bases in China, Israel, the United States, Russia and Singapore", Reuters reports.

According to Alibaba's Chief Technology Officer Jeff Zhang, "The Alibaba DAMO Academy will be at the forefront of developing next-generation technology that would spur the growth of Alibaba and our partners". Speaking along the same lines, Alibaba is also planning to establish seven new research laboratories in Hangzhou, Beijing, Tel Aviv, San Mateo, Singapore, Moscow, and Bellevue. Over 100 scientists worldwide who specialize in different aspects of AI, quantum computing, and the IoT will also be hired.

Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma said he hopes Alibaba Group, which has 25,000 engineers and scientists, can make achievements in future-oriented cutting-edge technology through DAMO. Like those other organizations, Alibaba plans to take an open approach with the work that it's doing, and will likely contribute information to the public through research papers, open source projects and other collaborations. The labs will publish papers and develop technology that can be used by both Alibaba and third parties. An advisory board, consisting of researchers and educators from various top universities such as MIT will guide the program.

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DAMO Academy has already merged with the University of California, Berkeley, which will witness the entities explore areas such as secured real-time computing through RISE lab. The additional R&D investment is designed to help the business deliver on its goal of serving 2 billion customers and create 100 million job opportunities in 20 years. "We aim to discover breakthrough technologies that will enable greater efficiency, network security and ecosystem synergy for end-users and businesses everywhere".

The Chinese giant and its affiliates have undergone a rapid expansion in the past year, bringing it into direct competition with U.S. e-retailer Amazon.com Inc., as well as global payments, cloud and logistics firms.

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