Tencent invites the public to test its new “AI Cloud”

Tencent’s new AI strategy is beneficial for all: opening up its core AI techniques to provide better services.

Photo from Pixabay

Baidu and Alibaba have both released their core artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to the public, allowing developers and third party small and medium-sized businesses to implement its technology into their operations. Now, Tencent has caught up with its competitors in the AI race by launching its “AI Cloud” which opens up the tech giant’s core technology to the public.

Tencent has shown great ambition to develop its own AI capabilities with the establishment of the Tencent AI Lab in April 2016. The Chinese tech giant has since assembled a team of world class AI scientists, researchers and experts. After poaching Zhang Tong, the former head of Baidu Big Data Lab, to lead Tencent AI Lab this March, the firm is going deeper into AI related research and placing a much stronger bet in the competition of AI-driven products.

This time, the tech behemoth is introducing an “AI Cloud” to the public and is releasing the company’s core technology to provide new AI services, local media reported. It claimed to build the new service based on the existing cloud computing structure, and is providing the techniques it has developed such as computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language processing.

Screenshot from Tencent AI Lab’s website

Just last month, Tencent opened a new AI lab in Seattle and appointed a former Microsoft scientist to drive the company’s research on speech recognition and natural language processing, CNBC reported. In an interview with CNBC, Dowson Tong, Tencent’s senior executive vice president and social network group president, said he was a big proponent of offering A.I. as a service.

“I am very optimistic (and) I am very bullish about the future of AI,” Tong told CNBC. “I think by having all these players, big and small, and each with their own expertise, we’re going to see the whole industry prosper.”

The tech company was clearly confident to show what it is capable of in terms of AI development. It brought its Go program “Fine Art” or “Jueyi” to a computer Go tournament in Japan earlier this year and won the championship title after winning all 11 games.

With millions of existing users, Tencent has a strong and solid starting point. The company is best known for WeChat, which started off as a messaging service and has rapidly grown its business to include everyday services such as food delivery and cab hailing into the mega app. The quantity and depth of big data that it has amassed is almost beyond imagination.

“Make AI everywhere” — this is the first thing that greets you upon opening Tencent’s AI lab website. This pretty much says it all in terms of the company’s AI strategy. With the company now opening its core techniques to the public, Tencent is betting big on artificial intelligence. Just as its AI Lab’s website says — “aiming to build the top artificial intelligence team.”

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