Amazon backs German artificial intelligence research hub

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[October 23, 2017]  FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Amazon.com will open an artificial intelligence research center in the German university city of Tuebingen, creating 100 jobs over the next five years.

It joins BMW, Bosch, Daimler, Facebook and Porsche in backing a German initiative launched last year and focused on areas such as robotics, machine learning and computer vision.

The research center will be located adjacent to the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and draw on the expertise of two of its experts, Prof. Bernhard Schoelkopf and Prof. Michael J. Black.

Schoelkopf is co-inventor of technology that enables computers to understand causality.

"It's at the heart of every decision taken by machine learning," said Ralf Herbrich, Amazon's director of machine learning.

Black is a specialist in computer vision and founder of Body Labs, a company acquired by Amazon that has developed AI to analyze three-dimensional human body motion and shape.

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The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, northern France, February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

With an understanding of causality, artificial intelligence systems can predict customer behavior in response to automated decisions, Herbrich told Reuters, noting this can be used to order online search results to improve the user experience.

Amazon said it would also contribute 1.25 million euros ($1.5 million) to Germany's Cyber Valley collaborative research effort and a further 420,000 euros ($500,000) to fund individual research awards.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; editing by Jason Neely)

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