Google, the U.S. web-search leader, has deemed AI research one of its own top priorities and spent $400 million in January to acquire a major British AI firm.
A former Stanford University computer science professor, Ng co-founded Coursera, an online learning start-up, after he left Google.
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On Friday Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li hailed Ng as the "ideal individual to lead our research efforts as we enter an era where AI plays an increasingly pronounced role."
Baidu is just one of several Chinese Internet companies that have ramped up their hiring and acquisitions in Silicon Valley to compete toe-to-toe with the U.S. technology leaders.
Ng's project at Google attracted international attention in 2012 when its "neural network" of 16,000 computers, nicknamed the Google Brain, taught itself how to spot a cat after processing thousands of images of cats. Ng said his algorithms were based on theories of how the human brain learns.
— By Reuters