Baidu has launched two new artificial intelligence (AI) labs and hired three senior scientists as the Chinese Internet giant continues to bolster its AI division.
Baidu has launched the Business Intelligence Lab (BIL) which will focus on creating data analysis technology for emerging data-intensive applications, and the Robotics and Autonomous Driving Lab (RAL), which will concentrate on computer vision, particularly autonomous driving.
The new labs, which form part of Baidu Research’s growing AI division and add to its three existing labs, Institute of Deep Learning (IDL), Big Data Lab (BDL) and Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence Lab (SVAIL).
The move is part of the company’s push to strengthen its AI research and development as it moves to solidify Baidu’s services in AI, particularly in areas such as autonomous driving. Baidu’s goal is to pioneer the long-term innovation of fundamental AI technologies through its research, technology and development departments.
The company has also hired three new senior hires in Dr. Kenneth Church, Dr. Jun (Luke) Huan and Dr. Hui Xiong. The appointments mark the highest-profile hires for Baidu’s AI division since chief scientist Andrew Ng left the company last year.
Church is a pioneering research scientist in Natural Language Processing (NLP) who has previously worked at IBM Watson Research Center, Johns Hopkins University, Microsoft and AT&T Labs-Research, while Jun is an expert in big data and data mining, and was previously professor of Computer Science at the University of Kansas.
Hui Xiong meanwhile, is a professor at Rutgers University who is focused on research in data and knowledge engineering.
“This is the beginning of a new journey for Baidu Research. Our mission will be centered on conducting future-looking fundamental research, setting the direction for Baidu’s future AI development and empowering the company’s long-term strategy,” said Haifeng Wang, vice president of Baidu and head of Baidu’s Artificial Intelligence group (AIG) and Baidu Research.
Church, said, “AI’s significance is already evident. In addition to its commitment to fundamental research, Baidu is also in a unique position to transfer AI technology from the laboratory into reality and make the world a better place for hundreds of millions of people.”
Baidu's AI division is part of Baidu Research, which in turn is part of Baidu’s Artificial Intelligence Group (AIG), a dedicated AI business unit with more than 2,000 scientists and engineers.
AI has become a core component of Baidu's business which has shifted its focus away from search advertising to become an AI-first company. The change coincided with a change in advertising regulations that delivered a 16% decline in advertising customers for China’s search giant.