Google Opens Machine Learning Research Center in Switzerland
Google is doubling down on its investment in machine intelligence, opening a new research center based out of the company’s office in Zurich, Switzerland. Dubbed Google Research, Europe, the new center will be home to teams of software engineers and researchers focused on machine learning.
In addition to conducting pure research in artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML), the group will also develop new tools and products that make use of the technology. The company noted that it already offers several services to consumers that are based on machine learning technology, such as Google Translate, Photo Search, and Smart Reply for Inbox.
Machine Perception and Natural Language Processing
The new research center is part of a broader initiative at Google to advance the field of machine learning. Researchers working at the company's existing engineering offices in Zurich have already made major contributions to the field, such as developing the conversation engine that powers the Google Assistant in the Allo smart messaging app, and developing the engine that powers Knowledge Graph. The Zurich office is already the company's largest engineering office outside of the US.
Besides machine learning, the company said that the research center will focus on two other main areas of development: machine perception and natural language processing and understanding.
Machine perception research focuses on the problem of getting machines to be able to understand information such as images, sounds, music, and video. The research factors into elements of Google products such as natural handwriting recognition and music recommendation algorithms. Google's natural language processing and understanding, on the other hand, focuses on issues such as general-purpose syntax and semantic search algorithms.
A Global Effort
Emmanuel Mogenet, the head of Google Research, Europe, said in a blog post today that the researchers in the Zurich office will be uniquely able to work with team linguists on Natural Language Understanding, while also collaborating with other Google Research groups located around the globe.
The Zurich team will focus its efforts on finding ways to improve machine learning infrastructure while also facilitating research in the broader machine learning community, and, finding new ways to put the technology to practical use.
Mogenet said that Europe is an ideal location for the research team, given the presence of so many premier technical universities on the continent and the region's reputation for top-notch computer science research.
Machine learning has become an area of increasing interest to technology companies in the last year. Intel recently acquired computer vision software company Itseez to help bolster its Internet of Things (IoT) machine learning and machine perception technology capabilities. Meanwhile, Microsoft researchers announced a new initiative in March to use Minecraft to help teach machines how to learn.