Microsoft is moving some of its best artificial intelligence researchers from China to Canada in a move that threatens to gut an essential training ground for the Asian country’s tech talent, reports the Financial Times. The Beijing-based Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) has begun seeking visas to move top AI experts from China’s capital to its institute in Vancouver, said four people with knowledge of the plans.
These people said the move could affect 20 to 40 staff. A person close to Microsoft said fewer Chinese staff will move to Canada this year, where the US tech giant is creating a new lab staffed by experts from around the world.
Researchers described the move as the so-called “Vancouver Plan.” Those with knowledge of the decision described it as a response to heightened political tensions between the US and China, as well as a defensive manoeuvre to stop top talent from being poached by domestic tech groups desperate for AI researchers to develop domestic versions of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.