The e-commerce giant plans to set up seven research labs and hire 100 scientists around the world to delve into artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and quantum computing, the company said in an emailed statement. Specific fields include machine learning, visual computing and network security.
The program marks a significant ramp-up in its R&D outlay and is intended to help the $469 billion behemoth keep pace with Amazon.com Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. in potentially industry-changing advancements. It's in line with ambitions voiced by top policy makers who want China to become a global leader in artificial intelligence.
"The labs will help solve issues that Alibaba is currently facing across its business lines," Jeff Zhang, Alibaba's chief technology officer, said in a telephone interview. "It will also be at the forefront of developing next-generation technology."
The planned investment compares to the $6.4 billion the company spent on R&D over the past three fiscal years.