baidu hires Andrew Ng for AI center
May 17, 2014

Man Behind ‘Google Brain’ To Head Up Baidu’s US Artificial Intelligence Center

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Baidu, the most popular Chinese-language online search provider, has announced plans to open up a new artificial intelligence center in the heart of Silicon Valley, and has tapped “Google Brain” founder and Stanford University AI Lab director Andrew Ng to lead the division.

According to Paul Mozur and Rolfe Winkler of the Wall Street Journal, Ng – the man who helped Google set-up its program to replicate the human brain using computer hardware and software – will be in charge of nearly 200 employees working at the $300 million Sunnyvale, California research and development facility.

While at Google, Ng managed to get 16,000 computers to train themselves to recognize images of cats simply by reviewing YouTube footage of felines, said Liz Gannes of re/code. He had been working in the field of deep learning as a professor at Stanford, but was on a leave of absence to launch the online education firm Coursera.

Ng, who recently stepped down as CEO of Coursera but remains the company’s chairman, was named to Time magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2013. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a master's degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“We are delighted to welcome Andrew to our team. 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,” Baidu co-founder, chairman and CEO Robin Li said in a statement.

“Baidu is a company with long term vision and deep commitment. I am excited to help Baidu advance fundamental technologies in AI and other areas that can truly change the world,” said Ng. In a Coursera blog entry, he added that, while he would “remain deeply involved in company strategy” at the massive open online course (MOOC) company, he was planning to “dedicate more of my time toward AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning.”

He is being joined at the Sunnyvale center by graduate student and long-time collaborator Adam Coates, Gannes said. The California facility will be Baidu’s second deep-learning lab, as the search engine also operates one in Beijing that has assisted in the development of its translation app and ad-targeting technology, the latter of which has reportedly resulted in a significant increase in click-through rate, explained Technology Review’s Tom Simonite.

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