By Hu Zexi
Search engine giant Baidu announced recently that it has been authorized to establish China’s first national engineering lab on deep learning. The new move will boost the country’s artificial intelligence (A.I.) progress.
The lab, approved by the National Development and Reform Commission, is dedicated to research and application of deep learning. The laboratory will focus on visual and sensory technologies, biometric identification, human-computer interaction, standardized services and deep learning intellectual property.
A national engineering lab in China, usually research and development entity established by enterprises, research institutions or universities, now represents an important part of the national scientific and technological innovation system. China had 167 national engineering laboratories as of last September.
China’s progress in artificial intelligence research has attracted more limelight in recent years. In a report titled “China’s Intelligent Weaponry Gets Smarter” published in early February, the New York Times commented that as consumer electronics manufacturing has moved to Asia, both Chinese companies and the nation’s government laboratories are making major investments in artificial intelligence.
A White House reportreleased last October said that Chinese scholars have published more research papers related to artificial intelligence than their American counterparts.
Baidu is not only one of China’s top three Internet companies, but also a notable one in the world. Its CEO Robin Li, at the annual sessions of National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in 2015, called for the development of artificial intelligence by introducing a plan called “China Brain”.
This engineering lab was launched less than two years after Li’s proposal, said Lu Qi, Baidu’s president and chief operating officer, adding that it revealed China’s leapfrog progress in artificial intelligence technology.
Lu, together with Wu Enda, chief scientist of Baidu, are heavyweights in artificial intelligence sector.
New York Times also linked Lu with the industry of the whole country, saying that “the advance of the Chinese was underscored last month when Lu Qi, a veteran Microsoft artificial intelligence specialist, left the company to become chief operating officer at Baidu, where he will oversee the company’s ambitious plan to become a global leader in A.I.” (People’s Daily)
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