Baidu Becomes the First Chinese Company to Join US-Led AI Ethnic Group

China’s Internet giant Baidu, Inc. has joined the Partnership on AI (PAI), a US-led artificial intelligence (AI) ethnic group and become its first Chinese member.

The Partnership on AI, which includes members like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc., was founded two years ago as a technology industry consortium focused on establishing ethical guidelines for AI practices as well as educating the public about AI.

Baidu’s admission represents the beginning of PAI’s entrance into China. We will continue to add new members in China and around the world as we grow,” PAI said in a statement on Oct. 16.

Baidu has been a front runner in AI development in China. The company has devoted many of its resources into AI-backed projects such as the self-driving car program named Apollo and its voice assistant called DuerOS that has been installed in more than 100 brands of appliances. Baidu is also partnering with Huawei to develop an open mobile AI platform to support the development of AI-powered smartphones.

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Apollo self-driving car
Baidu Apollo self-driving car

Last year, China announced a plan to become the world leader in AI by 2025 by investing roughly $400 billion in the industry in the coming years and encouraging technology sharing between private, public and military research groups.

Two of Baidu‘s biggest rivals Alibaba and Tencent have also invested heavily in the AI technology. Alibaba‘s ambitious City Brain project aims to help cities run their operations using a cloud-based system where data of the city and everyone in it is collected and processed through AI algorithms. Tencent opened its AI Lab in 2016 with a vision to “Make AI Everywhere.” And its high-level team consisted of 50 research scientists and more than 200 engineers in both China and the United States.

Despite the ongoing frictions between China and US on trade, innovation and national security, US companies have expanded their AI businesses into China while Chinese firms led by “BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent)” have also established their presence in the US.