Google today announced plans to expand its investments in France, including its intention to create a new AI research team, its second such research initiative in two months after opening an AI center in China.

“Our new research team will work closely with the AI research community in France on issues like health, science, art and the environment. They will publish their research and open-source the code they produce, so that everyone can use these insights to solve their own problems, in their own way,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post today.

The new research team accompanies plans also announced today to open four Google Hubs to provide free online skills courses or retrain workers. Google aims for its courses to be within reach for 100,000 people a year, Pichai said.

Google plans to grow its French workforce by 50 percent in the year ahead, for a total 1,000 employees.

Google’s announcements come just hours after Facebook released plans to step up its digital skills training initiatives in parts of Europe and a €10 million ($12.2 million) investment in its AI research facility in France. Facebook said it plans to deliver training to 1 million people by 2020.

The competition for hearts and minds like the sort that took place in France today has happened before as tech giants attempt to position themselves among governments, researchers, and businesses around the world.

Between late 2016 and late 2017, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft made the news after opening AI research offices or expanding their footprint in Montreal, a city well known for AI innovation and education institutions like Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) and McGill University.


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