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Tencent recruits AI expert to head Shenzhen lab

Chinese Internet giant Tencent has appointed Dr Tong Zhang to lead its artificial intelligence laboratory in Shenzhen.

Before joining Tencent, Dr Zhang worked as a distinguished AI scientist for IBM, Yahoo and Baidu.

Prior to that, he was a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, a member of the big data committee of the US National Academy of Sciences and led many big data research projects funded by the US National Science Foundation.

Dr Zhang (below, right) will lead a team of more than 50 world-class scientists team of who will concentrate on four areas: machine learning, computer vision (e.g. face recognition), speech recognition, and natural language processing (e.g. machine translation).

Tencent is looking at four areas for AI application: content, social, online games and cloud services. More than a hundred Tencent products, including Weixin/WeChat, QQ and Tian Tian Kuai Bao, a Tencent news app, use AI technology.

tencent bigMartin Lau, president of Tencent, said: “I am very pleased to have Dr Zhang on board. I am sure that with his tremendous experience and AI expertise, he will help the lab take AI to a new level.

"Besides the rapid advances on algorithms, fast-moving AI development also needs to be based on dynamic application, vast amounts of data and strong computing capacity. We’ve been developing AI for the past 18 years at Tencent and will continue to invest in building world-class AI capabilities and applications. Our hope is for AI to have a positive impact on people’s lives."

Dr Zhang said: "I am honoured to join the lab to help Tencent push forward with its AI efforts. We want to keep improving AI's capabilities in understanding, decision-making and creation by consistent investment in AI research and application. This will also allow us to provide strong AI technical support to Tencent's other businesses.”

Dr Zhang has a master’s and a doctoral degrees in computer science from Stanford University. He got his bachelor’s degrees on Mathematics and Computer Science from Cornell University.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.