Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have all done it -- and now Baidu's doing it, too. The Chinese tech giant has open sourced one of its key machine learning tools, PaddlePaddle, offering the software up to the global community of AI researchers. This move has become common among tech firms as they pour more and more resources into their AI work. Open sourcing your tools is a good way to attract talent, but it also allows companies to shape the development of a field that's becoming increasingly central to consumer tech, underpinning everything from voice interfaces to auto-sorting photo galleries. Baidu's big claim for PaddlePaddle is that it's easier to use than rival programs.
The Chinese Internet giant Baidu Inc. has been making big progress in applying deep learning neural networks to improve image recognition, language translation, search ranking and click prediction in advertising. Now, it's going to give a lot of it away. The company, often called "China's Google," will announce Thursday at the annual Baidu World conference in Beijing that it's offering the artificial intelligence software that its own engineers have been using for years as open source. Available in an early version on GitHub with full availability Sept. 30, it's code-named PaddlePaddle, for PArallel Distributed Deep LEarning. Deep learning is the branch of machine learning that attempts to emulate the way neurons work in the human brain to find patterns in data representing sounds, images, and other data.
Many of the latest machine learning and data science tools purport to be easy to work with compared to previous generations of such frameworks and libraries. Chinese search engine giant Baidu now has an open source project in the same vein: a machine learning system it claims is easier to train and use because it exposes its functions through Python libraries. PaddlePaddle -- "Paddle" stands for "PArallel Distributed Deep LEarning" -- was developed by Baidu to augment many of its own products with deep learning. Baidu touted PaddlePaddle's speech transcription in Chinese, either for transcribing broadcasts or as a speech-to-text system to replace keyboards in smartphones. The company claims it needed 20,000 hours of audio as training material to achieve these results with its framework.
Nvidia has made some early entries into the self-driving car and artificial intelligence market, but now, the hardware company has joined up with a notable partner: Baidu. Chinese search giant Baidu announced Wednesday it will work with Nvidia on initiatives focused on artificial intelligence. While both companies have worked together on smaller initiatives in the past, Wednesday's agreement marks a formal partnership between Baidu and Nvidia. In a statement, Ian Buck, vice president of accelerated computing at Nvidia, said the companies are a strong match for further development in AI. "NVIDIA and Baidu have pioneered significant advances in deep learning and AI," Buck said. "We believe AI is the most powerful technology force of our time, with the potential to revolutionize every industry.