Baidu Inc Names Coursera Founder Andrew Ng Chief Scientist

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Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU), the Chinese-language Internet search company, has appointed Andrew Ng, the co-founder of Coursera, an online education startup, chief scientist as the company starts its new initiatives in its research labs in Beijing, China and Sunnyvale, Calif. It is expected to hire 150 to 200 employees by the end of 2015.

Ng confirmed his appointment in a blog post on Coursera’s website.  “Later this month, I will be stepping away from my day-to-day responsibilities at Coursera, but will be continuing as Chairman of the Board. I will also be taking on the role of Chief Scientist at Baidu,” he said.

Baidu hires the man behind Google Brain

Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) previously established a group focused on computer science research called Deep Learning, an innovative approach in developing machines capable of processing data just like humans. Ng specializes in Deep Learning. He worked on the theory as a professor of computer science at Stanford University.

He was the man behind the Google Brain, the most ambitious artificial intelligence system to date, wherein 16,000 computers learned how to recognize cats after scanning millions of images online. He left Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) when he started Coursera.

Ng is joining Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) following the appointment of Rick Levin as chief executive officer of Coursera. Levin is a professor of economics and the 22nd and longest-serving president of Yale University.

Most powerful tool

In a previous interview with Re/code, Ng emphasized that Deep Learning is very important for Internet companies seeking to make their products more intelligent. According to him, “All of us have more access to data than we did. Deep Learning is the single most powerful tool to turn this data into actionable insights.”

Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) said Deep Learning will not be the only focus of its Baidu Research Labs.

Adam Coates, a graduate student and long-time collaborator of Ng, will also join the Chinese-language Internet search company. Coates recently published a paper on the largest trainable neural network, with more than 11 billion parameters made by 16 machines.

Other technology companies such as Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) are also working on Deep Learning. Last year, Microsoft said it has 65 PhD-level researchers working on it. On the other hand, Google acquired DeepMind, a London-based startup, for $500 million to boost its efforts in bringing artificial intelligence to search. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) also established its own Artificial Intelligence Lab and hired Deep Learning professor Yann LeCun.

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