Chinese search giant Baidu’s artificial intelligence (AI) ambitions have today been dealt a significant blow. As announced via a Medium blog post, the company’s chief scientist Andrew Ng is stepping down from his role after a good three-year long run. This development comes at a time when the tech giant has been aggressively focused on making AI the focus of its undivided attention.

In his official blog post, Andrew continues to add,

I will be resigning from Baidu, where I have been leading the company’s AI Group. Baidu’s AI is incredibly strong, and the team is stacked up and down with talent; I am confident AI at Baidu will continue to flourish.

Prior to joining Baidu in 2014, Stanford University academic Andrew Ng had been working on his own startup and that too a pretty successful one. He is recognized as one of the co-founders and chairman of online learning platform Coursera. He had been courted by Baidu for his impressive contributions in the artificial intelligence space. Andrew was previously employed as the lead and founder of Google Brain project, focusing on machine learning and deep learning research, back in 2012.

Andrew, in the blog post, further continues to mention that he had been working out of Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab with a whopping 1,300-member strong team. He has been responsible for leading the company’s AI efforts until date and will be departing at the end of this month. His responsibilities will now be taken over by Yuanqing Lin, who had been director of Baidu’s Institute of Deep Learning in Beijing.

The 300-member strong Baidu Research division has been working on delivering technologies for new lines of business. It includes the autonomous driving software (which now also includes Nvidia as a partner) and the DuerOS Conversational Computing platform. But, that’s not all and the team is also working on other projects such as NLP, face recognition, human speech generation and more.

Further, Andrew mentions that he had been mulling the decision to step down from his position at Baidu’s research unit. And he now believes that the AI Lab is in good and capable hands, thanks to the recent appointment of Lu Qi as its new chief operating officer. He is a leading expert in artificial intelligence technologies and was appointed as global executive vice-president at Microsoft. His addition to the team, Andrew says, cemented his decision and made it easier to move on towards starting work on his ambitions.

Talking about the next chapter, Andrew says he’ll continue working towards the goal of making AI technologies ubiquitous. He has no plans of joining another technology behemoth to further his ambitions. Though he believes artificial intelligence is of significance for ushering an era of technological revolution, he wants it to contribute towards societal change as well.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#dd3333″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Just as electricity transformed many industries roughly 100 years ago, AI will also now change nearly every major industry, says Andrew Ng[/mks_pullquote]

He now plans to dedicate more of his experience in working in the said field to further explore new and innovative ways to build an AI-powered society. And he is now willing to bring AI technologies to almost every major industry – be it healthcare, transportation, entertainment or manufacturing. Talking about the same, Andrew adds,

As the founding lead of the Google Brain project, and more recently through my role at Baidu, I have played a role in the transformation of two leading technology companies into “AI companies.” But AI’s potential is far bigger than its impact on technology companies.

I am more optimistic than ever about the fantastic future we will build with AI. Lets keep working hard to get AI to help everyone!

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