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

Google's Australia investment could be a huge boost for the A.I. scene

November 22, 2021: -San Francisco, London, Montreal, Paris, and New York have all developed a reputation for the hotbeds of artificial intelligence research over the years. Sydney and Melbourne, the two big cities of Australia, have not. But that could be about to change.

On Monday, Google announced that it plans to set up a new Google Research Australia lab in Sydney as part of Australia’s 1 billion Australian dollars investment. The lab will research everything from A.I. to quantum computing.

The move has been welcomed by A.I. researchers in Australia, who told CNBC that there had been limited opportunities for A.I. gurus in the country over the years. 

Stephen Merity, an Australian A.I. researcher who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, told CNBC that Google should have launched Google Research Australia years ago, which adds that there are many well-known luminaries in the field from Australia.

“They almost all had to leave Australia to get opportunities,” he said. “Those who stayed were under-utilized, which added those at Google Sydney.”

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

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

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

“University departments have been robustly growing over the last decade as enrollments in computer science have gone up, and more faculty means more postdocs and more Ph.D. students, but that’s a relatively small number of permanent jobs in the scheme of things,” he added.

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