The artificial intelligence (AI) ethics body made up of five of the biggest United States-based corporations recently expanded to include Baidu as the first Chinese member.
Known as the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society or the Partnership on AI (PAI was founded back in 2016 by leading companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google and IBM in a bid to serve as an umbrella body for these companies to carry out research, make recommendations for the best practices and publish briefings on various areas including trustworthiness of AI, privacy and ethics.
Since its formation two years back, it has developed rapidly and currently boasts over 70 members sourced from academia and the private sector.
Apple, for instance, joined the Partnership on AI back in 2017. Until recently, the body did not have any representation from mainland China, even though the engineering school of Hong Kong University is a member.
In a statement, the President of Baidu Ya-Qin Zhang said: “As AI technology keeps advancing and the application of AI expands, we recognize the importance of joining the global discussion around the future of AI.
Ensuring AI’s safety, fairness and transparency should not be an afterthought but rather highly considered at the onset of every project or system we build.”
Chinese researchers are stereotyped in the west as being willing not only to play fast but also loose with the ethics of possible AI advances.
As such, the presence of Baidu in the partnership serves as a crucial step towards attaining global agreement regarding the ideal way of using the technology and the kind of limits to impose on it.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are substantial cultural and policy differences between the west and the east. China, in particular, has been talked about as having very different ways of doing things with regards to technology development and deployment. But differences in culture and jurisdiction, [particularly those] related to the policy ecosystem, are something that PAI is very well-placed to take a lead on,” explained Terah Lyons, the executive director of the Partnership on AI (PAI).
Lyons also added: “I think Baidu is grappling internally with how they want to confront a lot of the challenges of dealing with machine intelligence. I feel like involvement in the productive conversations that PAI is facilitating will help.”
Regularly termed as “China’s Google”, Baidu has spearheaded artificial intelligence (AI) research in the nation. Its autonomous driving vehicle project resulted in the development of Apollo, which is an open-source self-driving platform. What’ more, Baidu is also known for other projects including running Baidu ABC and DuerOS a “smart cloud ” designed for enterprises and a voice-supported digital assistant respectively.
Baidu prides itself on being a Chinese multinational technology firm that was incorporated in January 2000. It specializes in artificial intelligence as well as Internet-based products and services.
Baidu operates from its headquarters located at the Baidu Campus in Beijing’s Haidian District. Furthermore, it is among the biggest Internet and artificial intelligence (AI) companies around the globe.