Baidu becomes the first Chinese firm to join US-led A.I. body

  • Search engine Baidu has become the first member of a U.S. AI ethics group.
  • The consortium's existing members include Amazon, Apple and Google.
  • Baidu is developing AI technologies such as autonomous driving.
A woman walks past the Baidu booth at the China International Technology Fair in Shanghai. 
STR | AFP | Getty Images
A woman walks past the Baidu booth at the China International Technology Fair in Shanghai. 

Search engine Baidu has become the first Chinese firm to join a U.S. supergroup on AI (artificial intelligence) development that counts Amazon and Apple among its members.

The Partnership on AI (PAI) announced on Tuesday that Baidu had joined the group, which works to formulate best practices on AI technologies and understand the technology's impact on society.

Baidu, a leading Chinese search engine, has evolved in recent years to become a technology conglomerate with ventures in AI platforms. Alongside its AI developments, the company has created a series of initiatives aimed at limiting AI's unintended consequences, such as security measures for autonomous driving.

Baidu has three key new AI products: Apollo, China's largest open source autonomous driving platform; DuerOS, a voice enabled digital assistant; and Baidu ABC, a smart cloud for businesses.

Ya-Qin Zhang, Baidu's president, said the firm recognized the importance of taking part in global discussions around 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," he said in a press release published Tuesday.

"The impact of a transformative technology like AI goes beyond borders, so we are looking forward to both sharing our own insights and learning from our international peers."

PAI said it intended to expand further into China with the addition of new members.