Google and Facebook aren’t the only ones vying to be the standard bearer for the hottest AI technique around. China’s leading Internet search company, Baidu, which is also investing heavily in a popular and powerful machine-learning technology called deep learning, today released some key code that it uses to make this AI software run very efficiently.
Baidu’s code was recently used to build an impressive speech-recognition system called Deep Speech 2. For some short sentences, this system is better than most humans at recognizing speech correctly (see “Baidu’s Deep-Learning System Rivals People at Speech Recognition”). This is an especially useful technology for Baidu, because it offers a better way for the company’s many millions of users to access its services, especially on mobile. Typing Chinese characters on a smartphone is tricky and complex, and many people in China already prefer to use their voice to send short messages or to search the Web for information.