China’s largest search engine Baidu is looking to work with Indian institutions in future to make a better world through innovation, said Robin Li, Co-Founder, CEO and Chairman of Baidu.

India is one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world, and very large developing country, right next to China. Both the countries have been growing at a fast pace in the last few decades. “For the next decade, we will be more optimistic,” he said in a talk at IIT Madras’ tech fest, Shaastra 2020, titled Innovation in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Outside China, Baidu has presence in markets like Japan, Thailand and Egypt. However, the company's main product - search engine - is very much in China. “Once in the age of AI, search will be very different from what is seen today. Once we transform the search into a different product, we will be ready to launch that internationally," he said without committing anything specific on foray into India.

Since founding Baidu in January 2000, Robin has led the company to be China’s largest search engine with over 70 per cent market share. China is among the four countries globally - alongside the US, Russia and South Korea - to possess its own core search engine technology. Through innovations such as Box Computing to Baidu’s Open Data and Open App Platform, Robin has substantially advanced the theoretical framework of China’s Internet sciences, propelling Baidu to be the vanguard of China’s Internet industry. Baidu is also the largest AI platform company in China.

Intelligent economy

Li said that the previous decade was that of the Internet but the coming decade is that of intelligent economy with new modes of human-machine interaction. AI is transforming a lot of industries for higher efficiency and lower services. For instance, banks are finding it difficult to open branches but virtual assistant is used to open an account. Customers are more comfortable with virtual person than a real person.

In the education sector, every student can have a personal assistant while the pharma industry accelerate the pace of drug development with many start-ups already doing this. AI is also transforming transportation by helping reduction in traffic delays by 20-30 per cent, he said.

In China, using AI Baidu is helping in finding missing people and already 9,000 missing people have been found. AI can make one immortal. “When everything about you can be digitised, computers can learn all about you, creating a digital copy of anyone,” he said.

In the past ten years, people were dependent on mobile phones. But in the next ten years, people will be less dependent on the mobile phones because wherever they go there will be surrounding sensors, infrastructure that can answer your questions that concerns you. You may not be required to pull out your mobile phone every time to find an answer. This is the power of AI, he added.