AI visionary Andrew Ng announces he is to leave Baidu

22 Mar 2017

Now former Baidu chief scientist Andrew Ng. Image: Nvidia Corporation/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Baidu’s chief scientist and AI visionary Andrew Ng has announced he is to leave the Chinese tech giant for pastures new, but has not said which.

For the past three years, Baidu has had one of the world’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) researchers on board: Andrew Ng.

Despite only being in his early 40s, Ng has been the author or co-author of more than 100 papers on machine learning and robotics. Many of these related to the AI systems in place at Google, as Ng led its deep learning research team for nearly two years.

‘I am confident AI at Baidu will continue to flourish’

Since joining Baidu in 2014 – in something of a coup for the Chinese tech giant – Ng has led research in areas such as face recognition technology, healthcare chatbots and, most recently, speech recognition.

However, Ng has announced in a Medium post that he is to step away from Baidu, but has been coy as to where he will end up next.

“Baidu’s AI is incredibly strong, and the team is stacked up and down with talent. I am confident AI at Baidu will continue to flourish,” Ng said.

“After Baidu, I am excited to continue working toward the AI transformation of our society and the use of AI to make life better for everyone.”

Ng also commended Baidu’s CEO Robin Li and COO Lu Qi, the latter of whom recently made the move from Microsoft to further boost Baidu’s AI stature.

“Robin Li was the first large company CEO to clearly see the value of deep learning, and remains globally one of the best AI CEOs,” he said.

“COO Lu Qi is a seasoned business executive with significant experience in AI. With his leadership, AI at Baidu will flourish.”

AI will change every major industry

Speaking generally about AI, Ng was prophetic about its ability to transform society for the better, comparing it to one of the great industrial breakthroughs.

“Just as electricity transformed many industries roughly 100 years ago, AI will also now change nearly every major industry  –  healthcare, transportation, entertainment, manufacturing  –  enriching the lives of countless people. I am more excited than ever about where AI can take us.”

Based on his comments about his future, it appears that Ng aims to work free from the constraints of any one company.

“In addition to working on AI myself, I will also explore new ways to support all of you in the global AI community, so that we can all work together to bring this AI-powered society to fruition.”

Now former Baidu chief scientist. Image: Nvidia Corporation/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic