Monday, February 13, 2017

"How Chinese Internet Giant Baidu Uses AI And Machine Learning"

From Forbes:
Baidu is currently considered to be pack leader amongst the Chinese internet giants as they race to develop and deploy machine and deep learning technology. Much like their US-based counterparts such as Google and Amazon, self-teaching, neural net technology is being integrated into both their core services and used to innovate in new ways.

Cutting edge artificial intelligence (AI) methods such as machine learning and deep learning are being used to reap huge benefits across industries as diverse as finance and healthcare. The basic idea is that once we teach computers to learn in the same way we do, they can absorb and process Big Data at a tremendous rate, soon becoming at least, if not more, reliable than humans when it comes to making decisions.

The work of the Chinese giants – most prominently Baidu but also online retailer Ali Baba and chat provider Tencent  - in the AI field has received relatively little coverage in western media compared to that afforded to the US giants. This is starting to change as Chinese service providers increasingly look overseas for new customers, and will increasingly spend money to market themselves as global entities. Chinese internet companies are also increasingly physically locating themselves in western markets – particularly Silicon Valley – primarily to take advantage of the local analytics and data talent. So, I thought it would be interesting to focus on one of them for this piece.

Baidu’s work in the field of machine learning and AI is coordinated by Baidu Research, which is headed by chief scientist Andrew Ng. Before he joined Baidu, Ng was a director of Stanford University’s AI lab, and then founder of the team which developed Google Brain.

Like Google, the US giant which it is most frequently compared to, Baidu has invested in research and development across just about every currently fashionable arm of AI – from automated personal assistants, to autonomous cars and healthcare.

Before I go over some of their use cases, though, one thing that is worth considering is one potential advantage that Baidu has over its competitors. China’s stricter rules on use of the internet means that most citizens don’t have (legal) access to Google or many western online services – meaning Google knows very little about them. Chinese firms such as Baudu and Alibaba, on the other hand – as well as a monopoly on gathering personal data in their home market - can collect data of US and EU consumers in the overseas markets in which they operate. Given China’s huge population, it’s clear that Baidu is in an advantageous position here, when it comes to Big Data projects involving huge scale behavioural datasets....MORE