HKUST and WeChat Establish Joint Lab on Artificial Intelligence Technology

Officiating guests at the plaque unveiling ceremony: (1st to 3rd from left) The WeChat team and (from 5th from right) HKUST President Prof Tony F CHAN; Prof Joseph LEE, Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies; Dr Eden WOON, Vice-President for Institutional Advancement; Prof Tongxi YU, Acting Dean of Engineering; and Prof Qiang YANG, New Bright Professor of Engineering, Chair Professor and Head of Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) celebrated the opening of the WeChat-HKUST Joint Laboratory on Artificial Intelligence Technology (WHAT LAB) on 26 November. The Joint Laboratory  is dedicated to foster artificial intelligence and big data research to improve people’s living and advance the frontiers of knowledge, marking a milestone in the collaboration of WeChat and the higher education sector.

WHAT LAB, located in HKUST, will be led by Prof Qiang Yang, New Bright Professor of Engineering, Chair Professor and Head of Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Research areas of WHAT LAB include intelligent robotic systems, natural language processing, data mining, speech recognition and understanding. The Lab will bring together top researchers in the development of innovative artificial intelligence application with the database of WeChat.

Mr Harvey Zhou, General Manager of Technical Architecture of WeChat and his team attended the ceremony. “WeChat currently has 650 million monthly active users and tens of thousands of official accounts. We are looking for a research powerhouse to support its research in artificial intelligence and data mining,” said the WeChat team. “This collaboration not only demonstrates WeChat’s continuous support to the innovative efforts of the higher education sector, but also provides a platform for WeChat and HKUST to turn theories into reality.  The talents from both sides will work together in the hope to realize the vision of a smart and intelligent human life.”

The WeChat team added, “We are committed to create a dynamic internet ecosystem, and our investment in artificial intelligence reflects the vision we have for our future.

“We are excited to establish the Joint Lab which combines one of the most important internet platforms in the world with one of the world’s best research universities,” said Prof Tony F Chan, President of HKUST. “Asia is in a good position to make major contributions to AI and big data as there is a large user base. Big data research is also aligned with HKUST’s strategic direction.”

“WeChat is one of the most important mobile platform companies in the world.  The Joint Lab on Artificial Intelligence will not only strengthen WeChat’s ability to provide services intelligently, but also enable HKUST to become a top player in AI research and practice worldwide,” said Prof Qiang Yang.

Prof Yang’s main research area focuses on machine learning, data mining and artificial intelligence. He set up the Huawei Noah’s Ark Lab which conducts state-of-the-art research in big data and artificial intelligence in 2012. Prof Yang is a fellow of IEEE and AAAI. He is on the editorial board of several international journals ie IEEE Intelligent Systems. He has also co-chaired in several international conferences