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Tencent to open AI lab in Seattle with former Microsoft scientist in charge

Tyrone Stewart
Dr Yu Dong (Tencent)
Former Microsoft researcher Dr. Yu Dong will oversee the AI lab

Chinese tech giant Tencent has announced that it will open an artificial intelligence (AI) research facility in Seattle, Washington. The opening of the AI lab will see speech recognition expert, and former principal researcher of speech and dialog group at Microsoft, Dr. Yu Dong at the helm.

The lab will help drive Tencent’s research on speech recognition and natural language processing, and follows in the footsteps of fellow Chinese tech companies Baidu and Didi Chuxing in opening AI labs in the US over the last few years. Tencent opened its first AI lab in Shenzhen, China in April 2016.

"Dr. Yu Dong is an expert on speech recognition and deep learning. We are delighted to welcome Dr. Yu, and are confident that his addition to the team will serve to further strengthen Tencent's AI technology," said Dr. Zhang Tong, executive director of AI Lab. "We hope that AI Lab will become more than a laboratory, but a connector. By bringing together the world's leading experts in the field, we hope to further drive fundamental research on AI to expand its influence and enhance its practicality."

Yu is reportedly looking to build a team of around 20 people for the Seattle lab. Tencent’s lab in Shenzhen has more than 50 researchers and more than 200 engineers.