Jack Ma announced the launch of DAMO Academy in the 2017 Computing Conference. He believes social responsibility will be the driving force for Alibaba to explore the frontiers of human science and technology. Now let’s see what Jack Ma had said about the Damo Academy.
“I hope that Alibaba can do three things. First, I personally hope that Alibaba can leave the Damo Academy which can succeed in living longer than Alibaba. The second is to leave Hupan University to train entrepreneurs and tell people all about our profits and losses. The third is that Alibaba's public foundation can live for a very long time. I hope that if Alibaba disappeared one day, these three are the best things we leave to the world.
But living long doesn’t mean being able to live well. Like a candle, it must burn very fast if you want it to burn brightly. I directly told our CTO, Jeff Zhang, that this laboratory can not wait for money, it should be able to make money on its own. There has to be a sense of making money so that we can survive. Otherwise it will die as soon as Alibaba dies. What I want is for the laboratory to survive when the company dies. There will be a good business model, and I hope it does not just rely on papers to survive. More than 90% of research results need to be marketed instead of staying in the laboratory. Only then can this laboratory go a long way.
I have been considering setting up the laboratory for a while. Real scientists and real entrepreneurs have something in common. First, we are all optimists. We can see it because we believe it. Most people believe only after they have seen it. If we do not believe that this thing will happen, it is impossible to research for fun. Second, we have to take the initiative, we have to risk it. Third, we must have innovation and creativity; we must take a different path. When we do anything in Alibaba, I will ask, “Do you have any way to do it better than others, if you do it exactly the same, why would I let you do that?”
After eighteen years, we decided to set up the laboratory. Many people have asked us: “what is its future?” To learn Microsoft's model or Bell Labs model? We have discussed a lot about this question. In the last century, a company which seized one or two opportunities would become a great company. But in the 21st century, it is necessary to solve the big problems until it becomes an amazing company.
Therefore, Alibaba hopes to go beyond its model. We will learn from IBM and learn from Microsoft and Bell Labs. We must learn from the vast experiences and lessons of the historical evolution of humanity in the past, but we must go on our own way. With today's resources, talent and capital in China, we can go our own way in the fields of science and technology. We have to believe that Damo Academy can and should surpass Intel, Microsoft and IBM. Because we were born in the 21st century, we have the opportunity and the advantage.
There are more and more people who are worried about the future. They fear that technology will replace humans, technology will eliminate employment and technology will increase the wealth gap between rich and poor. I believe all these worries will be groundless because technology and science must exist for people. The concern about technology is the lack of confidence in us and the lack of imagination for the future. Every technological revolution has an impact on traditional industries, technologies and employment. However, every technological revolution has also created new jobs.
People are becoming more powerful in the IT era, but DT technology is making others more powerful, so that the world can be shared more and more. In the DT era we must emphasise inclusiveness and sustainable development. We must also pay attention to individuality, then we can have Happy & Healthy, and have real happiness. E-commerce will become a true e-business in the future. All small and medium-sized enterprises are multinational corporations, so there will not be ‘Made in China’ or ‘Made in the United States’ in the future. They will all be replaced by ‘Made in Internet’. The Damo Academy really needs to develop and share technology. If not, I think it won’t be long before it is overthrown one day.
I hope the manager of this laboratory has a strong business sense. Our CTO Jeff Zhang has a strong business sense. He has rotated in many departments so he knows technology and business very well. A scientist must have entrepreneurial awareness while an entrepreneur must have a rigorous attitude to scientists. Only in this way can we have a future.
We will invest more than 100 billion in the Damo Academy over the next 5 years. Alibaba does not expect to make money from it, but it should be able to make money on its own. Of course, making money depends on solving the problem, and we have some issues that need to be resolved.
Because of these thoughts, I have every confidence in our Damo Academy. Not only because we will invest 100 billion and we have the resources, but also because we have too many problems to solve and we have to cross over.”
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