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Microsoft to launch AI hub in London; Big win for UK in race to get AI talent

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LONDON-  Microsoft has has announced plans for a new artificial intelligence (AI) hub in London, focused on product development and research.

The unit will be led by Mustafa Suleyman, the London-born cofounder of Google DeepMind, who Microsoft hired last month.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

As the primary backer of ChatGPT-maker OpenAI, Microsoft is a world leader in the rapidly-developing technology.

But competition for AI talent has been heating up across Europe over the past 18 months. Microsoft may seek to poach experts from other AI-focused companies to staff its new unit, such as DeepMind or OpenAI.

The move also represents a win for Britain, which has sought to bolster its credentials as a technology superpower since hosting the world’s first global AI safety summit in November.

CONTEXT

Last month, Microsoft hired DeepMind cofounder Suleyman to run its in-house Microsoft AI division.

Suleyman quit his own recently-formed company, Inflection AI, to join Microsoft, taking dozens of staff members with him.

The move received criticism from some corners, as the staff transfer meant Microsoft avoided the regulatory scrutiny that usually comes with a traditional acquisition.

BY THE NUMBERS

While it remains unclear how many jobs the new centre will create, the announcement builds on Microsoft’s recent commitment to invest 2.5 billion pounds ($3.16 billion) into data centre infrastructure and improving AI skills across Britain.

KEY QUOTE

“I know – through my close work with thought leaders in the UK Government, business community and academia – that the country is committed to advancing AI responsibly and with a safety-first commitment to drive investment, innovation and economic growth,” Suleyman wrote in a company blog post published on Monday.

“Our decision to open this hub in the UK reflects this ambition.”

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