Chinese Google Is Creating Its Own Ultron

08 July 2015

China’s leading search engine Baidu is investing signiicantly in artiicial intelligence technologies by iling over 500 relevant patents worldwide. “Baidu is at the forefront of the world, especially in such pioneering ields as face and voice identiication,” said Jing Su, director of Baidu’s patent strategy department.


Many other technology companies are also filing AI-related patents in China, says Qiang Lin, a patent attorney at Beijing East IP in Beijing.


Baidu has over 270 applications filed in neuro-linguistic programming, 120 in the deep learning (machine learning using algorithms) sector and scores of patents, as well as applications in big data, image identiication and voice technologies.


The technologies are expected to end manual online searches. Voices or smart phone cameras alone will help search targeted information, according to Baidu.


“Such expertise will also be used in other sectors, such as unmanned aircraft or driverless vehicles,” said Su.


Yanhong Li, founder of Baidu, proposed developing “China’s brain” when he was a delegate at a meeting of the National People’s Congress in March. Li suggested that the government should build a massive research infrastructure open to industries, schools and research institutes.


“There is not much of a gap between China and developed countries in the sphere of AI research,” Li said. “If there was a national complex strategy to advance AI-related technologies and industries, it would provide us with ideal opportunities to overtake competitors, give us an edge in comprehensive competitiveness and increase our country’s influence.”


Li was right. “The National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Ministry of Science and Technology must have their AI strategies,” Lin says. “What is needed is a strategy focusing on encouraging private entities to develop AI-related technologies and industries.”


Baidu has conducted research into using computer technologies to simulate how a human brain works and makes a logical judgment when supplied with various data since 2013.


Chinese media have reported that Baidu’s research and development spending surpassed Rmb15.87 billion (US$2.56 billion) over the past ive years, with annual average growth of over 70%.


Such an enormous amount of capital lowing into research has much to do with the decision maker Li’s belief in technological progress.


An IT patent report released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology at an IP forum in Shenzhen in April showed that some 2.48 million IT patent applications were filed in China in the irst half of 2014, an 18.7% rise year-on-year.


Following the United States, Chinese companies, especially technology ones, are becoming familiar with using patent as a business means – and most of them are still accumulating patents, says Lin.


According to the Zhongguancun administrative committee, Baidu iled for more than 1,000 patents in 2014 and in the same year, expenditures reached Rmb6.99 billion (US$1.13 billion), some 14% of its yearly business revenue.


Li founded Baidu in Zhongguancun, China’s high-tech business hub, with his search engine patent granted in the US in 1997.

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