While there is a plethora of innovative artificial intelligence based companies, none come close to Baidu
Baidu Inc., is one of the largest providers of Chinese language Internet services. Today, it is also one of the leading artificial intelligence innovators in the world. The company has helped China position itself on the global tech map while also boosting its economy along with Alibaba and Tencent.
Sources reveal that in 2020 alone, Baidu’s core R&D expenditure accounted for 21.4% of its revenue, becoming one of the top Internet companies with the highest R&D spending. Further, Baidu also claims to have most artificial intelligence-related patent applications in China. This is a testament to Baidu’s long-term commitment to driving technological advancement. Today, Baidu is actively and often successfully integrating artificial intelligence technologies into all of its major businesses. This ranges from search engine, to drug discovery and even autonomous driving. In 2018, Baidu became the first Chinese company to join an artificial intelligence ethics group (Partnership on AI (PAI)) led by top U.S. tech firms, Alphabet Inc’s Google, Apple Inc and Facebook Inc.
Here are some notable innovations in artificial intelligence applications from Baidu:
The COVID-19 Conundrum
During the COVID-19 outbreak too, the company had leveraged its expertise in artificial intelligence, and associated technologies and products, to support frontline efforts to prevent and control the pandemic. It created an artificial intelligence system that uses infrared technology to predict passengers’ temperatures at Beijing’s Qinghe Railway Station. Its Smart Consulting Assistant has also proved resourceful in helping doctors make rapid diagnoses and initiate treatment online.
Last year, Baidu had also open-sourced its Ribonucleic acid (RNA) prediction algorithm LinearFold. This artificial intelligence algorithm aims to accelerate the prediction time of a virus’s RNA secondary structure, which is crucial to understand it and developing vaccines. Researchers found that LinearFold is capable of predicting the secondary structure of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA sequence in only 27 seconds, 120 times faster than other methods. Apart from LinearFold, Baidu has also launched PaddleHelix, a machine learning-based bio-computing framework aimed at facilitating the development of vaccine design, drug discovery, and precision medicine.
Baidu’s Autonomous Vehicles Ventures
Apollo is an ambitious, open-source platform from Baidu that is designed to support self-driving vehicles. Apollo’s deep-learning inference support is designed to handle complex driving environments, including sensor fusion and AI processing. Baidu’s Automated Valet Parking (AVP) which runs on ACU-Advanced and Xilinx’s hardware is also built on Apollo. Last year, Baidu made headlines for its demonstration of Fully Automated Driving without a safety driver via live streaming. Using Apollo’s new Fully Automated Driving capability, the artificial intelligence system can independently drive without a safety driver inside the vehicle, a breakthrough that will accelerate the large-scale deployment of autonomous driving technology across China.
Baidu’s PaddlePaddle offers software developers of all skill levels the tools, services, and resources they need to rapidly adopt and implement deep learning at scale. It also hosts toolkits for cutting-edge research purposes, like Paddle Quantum for quantum-computing models and Paddle Graph Learning for graph-learning models. Companies like LinkingMed have used PaddlePaddle to develop an AI-powered pneumonia screening and the lesion-detection system being used in the hospital affiliated with Xiangnan University in Hunan Province. By using Paddle Detection, a PaddlePaddle toolkit for image processing, Jinlu Technology trains an instance-segmentation model for sorting waste plastic bottles.
Natural Language Comprehension
One of the most sought after yet trickiest challenges of artificial intelligence algorithms is to enhance its NLP abilities. Baidu’s ERNIE (short for Enhanced Representation through kNowledge Integration), is presently the best in the world by GLUE (General Language Understanding Evaluation) score. ERNIE can understand blocks of language in context and therefore comprehend commands and interactions of all kinds efficiently. Some of the ERNIE’s iterations like ERNIE-GEN enable language generation tasks, like dialogue engagement, question generation, and abstractive summarization. In contrast, ERNIE-ViL helps with visual understanding.
Other Exemplary Inventions
In 2015, Baidu launched its intelligent personal assistant, You are. Also dubbed as the Chinese Apple Siri, Duer includes multi-modal interaction, natural language processing, and other such technologies for a natural interaction and smarter understanding.
Baidu’s Deep Speech is a state-of-the-art speech recognition system developed using end-to-end deep learning by Baidu Research. It has also developed a production-quality text-to-speech (TTS) system using deep neural network – Deep Voice. Baidu mentions that its Deep Voice is faster and more efficient than Google’s WaveNet. Baidu also has SwiftScribe, an AI-Powered Transcription Software among its wide array of artificial intelligence innovations. Based on Deep Speech 2, the main function of SwiftScribe is to transcribe audio material into the text in order to solve the problem of consuming a large amount of time-by-word dictation.
Baidu Brain, is another core artificial intelligence innovation from the Beijing based company that features advanced technology for recognizing and processing speech, images and words as well as building user profiles based on big data analysis.
Moreover, last year, Baidu launched its own artificial intelligence-based accelerator called Kunlun K200 SoC. This 256-TOPS accelerator was designed to handle its internal deep-learning workloads. The K200 accelerates common neural-network and SQL operations. On artificial intelligence inference benchmarks, it matches the power efficiency of Nvidia’s T4 card. This year, Baidu will start mass production of Kunlun 2.
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