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Baidu poaches Google Brain inventor for Silicon Valley AI project

Andrew Ng is hot property for Chinese search giant

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The creator of Google's massive machine learning system has been hired by the Chinese search-and-more company Baidu as its new chief scientist.

Andrew Ng, who is also the director of Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence Lab, has been hired to set up an AI research project for the Chinese firm that will be carried out at laboratories in Sunnyvale and Beijing.

"As a true visionary and key contributor in the field of Artificial Intelligence, Andrew is the ideal individual to lead our research efforts as we enter an era where AI plays an increasingly pronounced role," said Baidu chairman Robin Li in a canned statement.

Baidu began work on its AI project last year, and is trying to build computer systems capable of image recognition and image-based search, voice recognition, natural language processing and semantic intelligence, machine translation, and advertising matching. There are currently two labs based in China, and on Friday the company opened its new Silicon Valley base with Ng at the head.

"Baidu Research and its labs will bring together top-flight Chinese, American, and global research talent to advance Baidu's technological leadership," said Baidu senior vice president Jing Wang. "We are confident that our new US R&D Center will help bring the benefits of tomorrow's technology to industry and more broadly to society."

Ng has already had a stellar career. The British-born scientist developed the Stanford Autonomous Helicopter project, and in 2011 spent time at Google X working on the Chocolate Factory's Deep Learning project, now known as Google Brain.

While Google's project has been successful after his employment at the firm, Ng has carried on research in the field. Last year he published a paper showing how such a learning system could be run on a faction of the current hardware specifications by shifting work onto GPU rather than CPU systems, something Baidu should be very interested in.

"Baidu is a company with long term vision and deep commitment," said Ng. "I am excited to help Baidu advance fundamental technologies in AI and other areas that can truly change the world. ®

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