Chinese search giant Baidu has stolen away the head of Google’s “deep learning” project, dubbed “Google Brain.” Andrew Ng is an artificial intelligence expert, Stanford professor and founder of online learning company Coursera.
Google Brain is a machine learning initiative to help make computing more efficient and capable by mimicking the distributed processes of the human brain. Ng will now spearhead such an effort for Baidu, although he will be primarily based in Silicon Valley, where Baidu not long ago opened an R&D office.
Wired reports that Baidu will invest $300 million “deep learning” and “big data” research over the next several years. Ng will lead that effort and build an international research team in the process. According to Wired, Ng was recruited by Baidu executives during several meetings over the course of last year.
The “holy grail” of these efforts is so-called “autonomous AI.” That’s when computer systems will be able to learn on their own without the need for human intervention and training. Akin to the long-predicted “singularity,” it will be both an awesome and frightening moment. Ng and colleagues around the world are in a race to get there.
With Ng’s departure, Google has clearly lost a big brain, but it may be able to replace him with one of a small handful of other star AI researchers in academia.