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Alibaba to invest $15b in tech, set up research labs around the world

DAMO’s research centers will tackle a number of different areas, including internet of things, quantum computing, fintech, human-machine interaction, network security, and natural language processing. DAMO will also include internal research teams at Alibaba, as well as its financial and logistics affiliates Ant Financial and Cainiao, respectively.

“A lot of researchers need real data and use cases to carry out their research,” Jeff Zhang, chief technology officer at Alibaba and head of DAMO, tells Tech in Asia. Alibaba has plenty of these business cases and can work with researchers to solve them, he says.

Indeed, the main purpose of DAMO, which is looking to recruit about 100 researchers from around the world, is to develop technology that can be funneled into Alibaba’s business. Big data and artificial intelligence capabilities, for instance, could become part of Alibaba Cloud’s service offering. Some research results from DAMO will also be opensourced, says Zhang.

Alibaba’s ambitious 20 year goals are dependent upon enormous growth of their global footprint, but equally important at this juncture is developing the ability to quickly leverage (or at least brace for) technological breakthroughs in the areas of study covered in this DAMO program.

As ever, they are positioned here as a platform that will provide participants with access to enormous amounts of data in exchange for insights that will be channeled to every corner of Alibaba’s service offering, which now also includes a controlling stake in the logistics company Cainiao.