Chinese AI firm iFlytek shuts down R&D center after scandal

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/15 22:33:39

Chinese speech recognition technology provider iFlytek Co said on Monday it has shut down operations at one of its research and development centers in East China's Anhui Province after a media report claimed that the location of the center violates nature reserve regulations.

The company, which is known for its cutting-edge artificial intelligence, said that the center was within the nature reserve and maintained that it followed rules and regulations when setting up the R&D center.

"After learning the center is within the Anhui Yangtze Alligator National Nature Reserve, we immediately stopped operations at the center and fully cooperated with local governments in rectification," iFlytek said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Monday.

The company added that before its center, there were already more than 100 firms in the local economic development zone, and that it did not know it was a nature reserve.

The closure of iFlytek's center followed public outrage after China Central Television reported that companies have illegally acquired land within the nature reserve, and it singled out the company.

Some online articles even claimed that the company purchased the land to develop villas and that the AI firm has moved into the real estate business.

In the statement on Monday, iFlytek said that the center was for research and development and "it is not a real estate project."

The news also came as iFlytek was under fire for alleged misrepresentation of its flagship simultaneous translation services. The company has billed the service as being powered by its AI technologies, but some media reports suggested the company actually used a human translator for a conference instead of its technologies.

The company has denied the accusations.

Shares of iFlytek were down 2.38 percent at the market close on Monday.

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