BEIJING, July 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- There are signs indicating that Chinese Internet users might be the very first group of people to truly reap the benefits of artificial intelligence.
The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, written by Ray Kurzweil, painted us a picture of artificial intelligence. Kurzweil describes his law of accelerating returns which predicts an exponential increase in technologies; in the book he says this will lead to a technological singularity in the year 2045, a point where progress is so rapid it outstrips humans' ability to comprehend it. Baidu, the leading Chinese search service provider, recently announced their ground-breaking Light App (a modified kind of web app), the Baidu Exam-Info Master. Using the artificial intelligence of their search engine, Baidu seeks to offer some practical help to high school seniors when it comes to applying for their dream college after the National College Entrance Examination. This service has soon become wildly popular among users, and may grow into a key motivation for Baidu to duplicate this kind of method into a far broader area.
Many of the 9 million graduating high school students have become users of Baidu Exam-Info Master, according to recent statistics, and a good part of them soon took a liking to this Light App, with some of them going even further and promoting it to others. Baidu Exam-Info Master now allows users to search for college information using natural language in the form of questions like "How is Beijing University?" Questions like that can now be answered in a more satisfactory manner and based on the questions, the service will provide users with a series of integrated data as well as suggestions and recommendations, All the information that has been fed back to users is actually the result of a real-time analysis made by the artificial intelligence, instead of a simple collection of web pages on the Internet.
Products like Baidu Exam-Info Master are quite rare, which guarantees that it will become quite popular among those who are applying for college. Before that, graduating students and parents had to try to gather college information from different, often inaccurate channels. There's also an official approach to avoiding the risks inherent in applying for college called the 'horizontal application.'
'Horizontal application' is still everything but practical and helpful. The rules of 'horizontal application' are unbelievably complicated and vague. The Baidu Exam-Info Master has effectively put an end to this information asymmetry. Students can now use a myriad of ways to get detailed information regarding the colleges that interest them.
Zhao Shiqi, the leader of this program, has thrilling news about the future development of this technology. What he called Deep-Decision-Making-Interactive-Searching-Application can be easily expanded to other fields. "It's a qualitative change of artificial intelligence, we are approaching singularity by launching Baidu Exam-Info Master," he remarked.
Also, the conversational search method Baidu Exam-Info Master has opened a whole new space of 'link the world' for imagination. Take medical service for example, users can simply query their search engine and then receive a complete medical suggestion at home; it's like having a private doctor all to yourself. Combining multimedia-search, deep-machine-study, and semantic research together, Baidu now has the ability to convert these state-of-the-art technologies into an advantage that other internet companies don't have, and further meet the needs of customers. By fusing NLP into Light App structure, the reconstruction of traditional industries has now become feasible, therefore the commercial value of mobile searching can be maximized.
Baidu is not the only one that has made a difference in artificial intelligence. Huge companies like Google, IBM, Facebook and Microsoft have all shown a great deal of interest in that area. Billions of dollars have been invested in the purchase of related companies and patents. Google, for instance, purchased over a dozen small companies focusing on artificial intelligence last year. However, many feel that Baidu's determination to commercialize this frontier technology is unparalleled. Andrew Ng, one of the three most famous experts in this area, joined Baidu this past May and is now the Chief Scientist of the company. That same month, Baidu announced a 300 million investment program in order to create a new Research and Development Center in Silicon Valley. Lead by Andrew Ng, the wheel-handler of the Lab of Artificial Intelligence of Stanford and the former starter of Google's artificial intelligence research program, the new R&D center and its 200 crew members will concentrate on deep study and related fields.
Baidu's motivation has also drawn competition back home. Alibaba and Tencent, the other two big Internet superpowers in China, have launched similar programs of their own, such as facial and voice recognition, and also want to be part of this newly found business. Critics think that Alibaba and Tencent's products are still confined in the modifications of their user interfaces, and that those services might be lingering about on the edge of artificial intelligence.
Baidu has already been working on enlarging its technological advantage, and the company has taken a large step forward by open-sourcing lots of core programs, including the Baidu Open Cloud, the Data Factory, and the Baidu Brain. It also announced a series of cooperating development programs in public safety and smart transformation alongside with several Chinese Governmental Departments. Li Yanhong, CEO of Baidu, recently spoke to the public about the company's long term goal of applying artificial intelligence technology in fields like smart hardware, smart transportation, and even smart mobile vehicles. Just like Intel's domination in the PC realm, Baidu hopes to make a lasting mark on this massive new market.