Andrew Ng (pictured), a vice president and chief scientist at Chinese search engine giant Baidu Inc., is leaving the company to seek new challenges in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) beyond the technology world.
"I will be resigning from Baidu, where I have been leading the company’s AI Group…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 wrote in a blog post two days ago.
Ng wrote in the blog post that Wang Haifeng is the new head of Baidu’s AI Group, and Lin Yuanqing is the company’s newly appointed head of Baidu Research. He also named Adam Coates, Jing Kun, Li Ping, Xu Wei and Zhu Kaihua as AI stars at Baidu who will help the company achieve its objectives.
In January, Baidu hired Lu Qi, formerly global executive vice president at Microsoft and an expert in artificial intelligence, as its group president and chief operating officer in charge of products, technology, sales, marketing and operations.
In a twitter message, Baidu said "Andrew Ng joined Baidu with a shared goal, to improve life through AI. Today, that goal remains. Thank you, and all the best!"
Ng, formerly a co-founder of online course provider Coursera and an adjunct professor at Stanford University, joined Baidu in 2014 to lead the company’s push into AI. Since then, Baidu’s AI group has grown to roughly 1,300 people, which includes the 300-person Baidu Research group.
In the blog post, Ng said Baidu’s AI software is used every day by hundreds of millions of people, with tremendous revenue and product impact in search, advertising, maps, take-out delivery, voice search, security, consumer finance and many more.
The former Google Brain project leader also led Baidu’s team to develop new lines of business including autonomous driving and the DuerOS Conversational Computing platform. Baidu is also incubating additional technologies, such as face-recognition, an AI-powered conversational bot named Melody used for healthcare, and several more.
Ng called Baidu "one of the few companies with world-class expertise in every major AI area: speech, neuro-linguistic programming (NPL), computer vision, machine learning, knowledge graph.
He also noted that both the U.S. and China are AI powerhouses, with the U.S. very good at inventing new technology ideas, and China very good at inventing and quickly shipping AI products.
"I want all of us to have self-driving cars; conversational computers that we can talk to naturally; and healthcare robots that understand what ails us. The industrial revolution freed humanity from much repetitive physical drudgery; I now want AI to free humanity from repetitive mental drudgery, such as driving in traffic. This work cannot be done by any single company — it will be done by the global AI community of researchers and engineers," Ng wrote in his blog.