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Alibaba launches global research institute, tops Amazon in terms of market value

By Qiang Wei (People's Daily)    13:53, October 19, 2017

Alibaba announces establishment of the DAMO Academy at the Computing Conference 2017 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province on October 11. (Photo from official website of Alibaba)

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba surpassed its US counterpart Amazon as the world's biggest e-commerce company on October 11 after the Hangzhou-headquartered company established the DAMO Academy, a new research institute, on the same day.

It is the second time Alibaba has exceeded Amazon in terms of market value. The first time happened three years ago when Alibaba listed.

The internet giant has also pledged to invest more than 100 billion yuan (about $15.1 billion) over the next three years in advanced technology development.

The DAMO Academy is said to have a connection with its founder Jack Ma’s love for kung fu stories. In Chinese novels, the Damo Academy is a top martial arts institution.

“DAMO” has rich connotations in the Chinese language: It’s the Chinese name for Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk from India, who once meditated and practiced martial arts at Shaolin Temple in Henan Province. Zen, a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang Dynasty as Chan Buddhism, started with Bodhidharma.

According to Alibaba, DAMO stands for "discovery, adventure, momentum and outlook," and the institute will focus on fundamental science and disruptive technological innovation.

With an ambition of serving at least 2 billion users worldwide, Ma expects the academy to outlive Alibaba and be able to solve problems with future-oriented technologies.

The academy will research quantum computing, machine learning, basic algorithms, network security, visual computing, natural language processing, human-machine interaction, chip technology, sensor technology and embedded systems.

The institute has begun to set up cutting-edge research centers and laboratories for different research areas around the globe.

It will recruit 100 researchers from around the world in the preliminary stage. George Church, a leading light of the Human Genome Project, and Michael I. Jordan, a mastermind in artificial intelligence, have joined the team. 

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(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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