Who says China and the US can’t get along? Baidu joins US-led AI group
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Who says China and the US can’t get along? Baidu joins US-led AI group

Chinese internet giant Baidu has become the first ever Chinese firm to join a “US supergroup” on artificial intelligence (AI), the Partnership on AI (PAI). The group includes big names like Amazon and Apple, and looks to “formulate best practises on AI technologies and understand the technologies’ impact on society.” It announced Baidu’s new membership last Tuesday, and said it would pursue similarly suitable companies from China for membership applications.

As international trade has continued to face problems over the last 30 days, Baidu’s share price has suffered

graph 2410 baidu

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Baidu is often described, in the west, as a ‘Chinese Google’. Not unlike its western counterpart, the company is best known as a market-leading search engine – but it is also a Big Tech conglomerate with multiple AI platforms and research teams. Its new AI products include key developments like Apollo (China’s biggest open source self-driving platform for autonomous vehicles), DuerOS (a voice-activated virtual personal assistant), and Baidu ABC (a ‘smart cloud’ for businesses). However, the company has also been involved int eh creation of a series of initiatives designed “aimed at limiting AI’s unintended consequences.”

The “unintended consequences” of AI are a common talking point amongst the technocratic elite: Elon Musk thinks AI could destroy civilisation and wipe us out; Ray Kurzweil expects it to emancipate us from the strife and struggle of the human experience. However, Baidu, like many companies working in the west, has tended to focus on the more practical problems that AI poses. That might be questions like ‘should an autonomous vehicle prioritise its driver’s life over that of other road users?’

Baidu’s president, Ya-Qin Zhang, was eager to point out the importance of international conversations over how to keep AI safe. In an announcement, he said: "Ensuring AI's safety, fairness and transparency should not be an afterthought but rather highly considered at the onset of every project or system we build. The impact of a transformative technology like AI goes beyond borders, so we are looking forward to both sharing our own insights and learning from our international peers."

Disclosure

Dominion holds Baidu in its Global Trends Managed Fund.


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