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Samsung to open AI centers in three countries

May 23,2018
Samsung Electronics is opening research centers dedicated to artificial intelligence technology in the United Kingdom, Canada and Russia.

That will bring the number of Samsung’s AI research centers to five, adding to existing ones in Korea and California.

The Cambridge center in the U.K. opened yesterday, the Toronto center in Canada opens on Thursday and the Moscow center in Russia opens next Tuesday.

In November, the electronics giant established an AI center under Samsung Research, a unit that heads development of future technology for the company. Two months later, a Samsung AI center was opened in Silicon Valley in the United States.

The Korean center will function as headquarters for all five AI research centers, making it a global hub for AI research. Samsung has grand plans to expand the number of specialized researchers in the AI field to more than 1,000 by 2020, and some 40 percent will be foreigners.

“[The AI center] will be a game-changer for Samsung to make a new world for the era of artificial intelligence,” said Kim Hyun-suk, president of Samsung’s consumer electronics unit at Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony of the AI center in Cambridge. Kim also heads Samsung Research.

The Cambridge center will be led by Andrew Blake, who was director of the Microsoft Research Lab in Cambridge. Professor Maja Pantic of Imperial College London will also lead AI research as part of the unit. Her area of expertise is machine analysis of human emotions, for which she was chosen by the science journal Nature to speak at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos.

Larry Heck was appointed to head the Toronto center. He is an expert in voice recognition and was a former leader of Samsung’s Silicon Valley center. The Moscow center will be led by Higher School of Economics Prof. Dmitry Vetrov and Skoltech Prof. Victor Lempitsky.

Samsung Electronics has been active in artificial intelligence technology this year. It introduced its AI assistant Bixby in April 2017.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, President Kim vowed to use the virtual assistant in all of its products, including home electronics, by 2020.

Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong reportedly intends to invest in future growth areas such as AI following his return to management this year after months in jail.

With Lee back at the helm, there is anticipation that Samsung may be more aggressive about acquiring companies with promising research.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]