Baidu President Yaqin Zhang: We aims to build an operating system in the AI era

Yaqin Zhang, President of Baidu, spoke at a panel on Thursday at the GMIC Beijing 2017 on Baidu’s ambition for the Artificial Intelligence (AI) era.

Dr Zhang was Microsoft’s Asia R&D Group Chairman before he resigned from the post and joined Baidu in 2014. Baidu is definitely a leader in China’s AI scene at the moment. Over the past few years, some of the search engine giant’s achievements include autonomous driving and machine learning.

“Baidu places bets on AI for the next one to two decades,” said Zhang. “We aim to build an operating system in the AI era – the Windows or Android of AI.”

Yaqin Zhang (second from right) spoke at a GMIC Beijing 2017 panel. Photo from GMIC Beijing 2017.
Yaqin Zhang (second from right) spoke at a GMIC Beijing 2017 panel. Photo from GMIC Beijing 2017.

He further explained that there is Windows for the personal computer (PC) age and Android for the smartphone and mobile internet era. Baidu’s mission is to provide an operating system for AI.

An operating system is only useful when there are applications on it to provide services for users. Baidu will develop applications by focusing on a number of areas such as consumption, family life, and automobiles.

“We will cooperate with all companies along the industry chain and so an open platform is very important for us,” said Wang. “For example, we have recently partnered with many home appliance companies and car makers.”

Last week, Baidu announced its plan to have open source software for its self-driving cars to speed up development of the industry. There are around a dozen core technologies and highly precise data on map and location techniques. On top of that, Baidu opened its AI platform where there are algorithms, models, and data for developers.

For the future of AI, Wang pointed out two trends. One is the combination of biology and digital intelligence. The other is quantum computing.

“Although quantum computing sounds remotely possible, I believe it will be useful in five to 10 years,” said Wang. “Besides, quantum computing will change many AI algorithms. Therefore, I believe many interesting things will happen in the coming years.”

(Top photo from GMIC Beijing 2017)

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