Is Chinese billionaire Robin Li’s big bet on artificial intelligence about to pay off?

February 14, 2018
Industry News
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Meng Jing
meng.jing@scmp.com

Baidu reported a rebound in operating profit as it recovered from a medical advertising scandal and has invested heavily into AI-related businesses

Baidu’s billionaire founder Robin Li Yanhong has been remaking China’s dominant search-engine operator into an artificial intelligence company, investing heavily into technology that will go into self-driving cars and smart home speakers.

Last year, research and development expenses rose 27 per cent to 12.9 billion yuan (US$2 billion). This year, the Beijing-based company said it expects to boost R&D investment at an even higher rate, after reporting a rebound in annual operating profit on the back of its mainstay search operations.

“As we enter 2018, we will continue to strengthen Baidu’s search business, fuel feed’s growth and differentiate iQiyi with AI,” Li said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to its video-streaming unit. “We also look forward to further strengthening our position in autonomous driving and conversational AI.”

Li, who has an estimated wealth of US$16.2 billion, has pushed the company he founded into AI in a bet that machines will take over many tasks now performed by humans. China has identified AI and related sciences as a national priority and released official targets to build supporting infrastructure. Continue Reading

 

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