China Is Backing Baidu To Take On The U.S. In AI Research

China intends to make significant contributions in the field of artificial intelligence, in which U.S.-based companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Alphabet and Facebook already hold dominant positions. China’s National Development and Reform Commission is funding search giant Baidu for this purpose, according to Quartz.

Baidu CEO Robin Li is revolutionizing AI in China

The government agency, which plans economic and social strategies, will offer financial help to Baidu in its efforts to develop a national deep-learning research lab, according to a post on Baidu’s Chinese WeChat account. No disclosure regarding the amount of funding was given, but it did reveal that Baidu will work with several research institutions and Tsinghua and Beihang Universities.

Baidu is one of the biggest Internet companies in the world, apart from being one of China’s top three. At the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in 2015, Baidu CEO Robin Li called for the development of artificial intelligence, notes Financial Express.

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At the conference, Li introduced a plan called “China Brain” before the engineering lab was launched, said Lu Qi, Baidu’s president and chief operating officer.

According to the South Morning China Post, rather than being a physical structure, the laboratory will be a digital network of researchers who will work on problems from their respective locations. Biometric identification, computer vision, human-computer interaction and computer vision are a few areas on which the research will focus.

Lin Yuanqin, head of Baidu’s Deep Learning Institute, and computer scientist Xu Wei will work on the project. The lab will also get two representatives from the Chinese Academy of Scientists.

Which is better in AI: U.S. or China?

There was no mention of the U.S. in the post, but Baidu Chief Scientist Andrew Ng has spoken a few times about China’s accelerated AI growth compared to America’s, notes Quartz. Citing a statistic that more papers from Chinese authors than American authors were accepted into the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s 2017 conference, Ng tweeted that the AI research community in China had shown an “astonishing” rise.

Ng also accuses the U.S. media of biased reporting.

He told The New York Times, “There are many occasions of something being simultaneously invented in China and elsewhere, or being invented first in China and then later making it overseas. But then US media reports only on the US version. This leads to a misperception of those ideas having been first invented in the US.”