Google’s Australia investment could be a big boost for the nation’s A.I. scene

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  • Google announced on Monday that it plans to set up a new Google Research Australia lab in Sydney as part of a 1 billion Australian dollar ($729 million) investment in Australia.
  • The move has been welcomed by AI researchers in the country who told Businesshala that there have been limited opportunities for AI gurus in Australia for years.
  • Stephen Merity, an Australian AI researcher who now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, told Businesshala that Google should have launched Google Research Australia years ago.

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San Francisco, London, Montreal, Paris and New York have all developed a reputation for being centers of artificial intelligence research over the years.

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Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities, are not. But that may be about to change.

Google announced on Monday that it plans to set up a new Google Research Australia lab in Sydney as part of a 1 billion Australian dollar ($729 million) investment in Australia. The lab will research everything from AI to quantum computing.

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The move has been welcomed by AI researchers in Australia who told Businesshala that there have been limited opportunities for AI gurus in the country over the past few years.

Stephen Merity, an Australian AI researcher who now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, told Businesshala that Google should have launched Google Research Australia years ago, adding that there are many well-known publishers in the region from Australia.

“Almost all of them had to leave Australia to get the opportunity,” he said. “Those who stayed were reduced, including those at Google Sydney.”

Google works on a handful of projects in Sydney, but the search giant’s research is relatively limited compared to Mountain View, where Google is headquartered in London, Zurich and Tokyo.

Jonathan Kummerfeld, a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, told Businesshala that until recently no major technology company had a laboratory in Australia.

Amazon has set up a lab in Adelaide, while Oracle and IBM have set up AI labs in Melbourne. Facebook and Twitter have offices in Australia, but they don’t have significant teams of AI researchers.

“The more the industrial research ecosystem in Australia grows, the more other companies will consider opening offices,” Kummerfeld said.

“University departments have been growing strongly over the past decade as enrollment in computer science has increased, and more faculty means more postdocs and more PhD students, but that’s a relatively small number of permanent jobs in the scheme of things,” he said. .

New Sydney Headquarters

Google’s investment will also be used to expand Google’s cloud computing infrastructure in Australia and partner with local universities and other organizations.

The investment package – called the “Digital Future Initiative” – ​​is expected to create 6,000 jobs and support an additional 28,000. It was launched at an event hosted by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, where Google officially opened a new Australia headquarters in Sydney.

“The announcement made by Google is a billion dollar confidence in Australia’s strategy for the digital economy,” Morrison said.

The investment comes after Australian lawmakers earlier this year criticized the US tech giant for failing to pay local news publishers for the content shared on their platforms. In response, Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva threatened to block Google Search in the country.

Australia then became the first country in the world to make it a legal requirement that large technology firms including Google and Facebook, now Meta, pay for news content on their platforms.

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