Tech Giant Baidu Joins AI Ethics Group

Baidu Suzhou Branch Office, located in Suzhou Industrial Park. It is nicknamed "One hundred poison" for advertisement issues. (Photo: Shwangtianyuan / Wikimedia Commons)

Widely considered as one of China's biggest tech companies, Baidu have once again proved its might in the tech industry. It was recently confirmed that Baidu became the first Chinese company to be a part of an Artificial Intelligence ethics collective that is based in the United States.

Simply called The Partnership on AI, the collective announced on Tuesday that Baidu, China's biggest search engine provider, is the latest company, and the first Chinese one to join the group.

The Partnership on AI was born in 2016. The collective was founded by top tech companies including Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM. Tech giant Apple later joins the collective in 2017. In the last two years since its founding, The Partnership on AI's members has grown to more than 70 organizations and member companies.

Formed as a collective that focuses on ethics, members of the Partnership on AI collective work together in order to create best practices with regards to the technology surrounding Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, the collective also weighs in and assess the impact of these practices on the society.

Baidu made history by being the first representative of mainland China in the collective. Additionally, Hong Kong University's School of Engineering is also a member of the collective.

In a statement released following its inclusion into the group, Baidu President Ya-Qin Zhang said that as the technology behind artificial intelligence continues to group, member organizations should start to regulate and ensure the technology's safety, transparency, and fairness. He added that these values should be considered at the start of every AI project, rather than think of it as an afterthought.

Although Baidu started as a search engine company, and it is still considered as its biggest product, the company has long since broadened its portfolio to cover a diverse area of the tech sector. With regards to Artificial Intelligence, Baidu has launched three particular brands. First is the Apollo which is considered as China's biggest platform when it comes to open source autonomous driving. Next is Baidu ABC which is billed as a smart cloud platform for enterprises. Finally, there is the DuerOS which is a voice-based digital assistant.

Many observers have noted that now that Baidu is part of the ethics collective, it will play a crucial role in the creation of a global consensus in pushing for regulations in the AI industry. Many also believe that fellow Chinese tech firms will follow suit now that Baidu is in the collective.

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