AskADoctor in English, is one of the earliest AI apps to emerge from Baidu’s deep-learning division since it hired Andrew Ng, a renowned data scientist and former marquee researcher at Google. And it’s an example of the unique tech interface the company can produce given its privileged access to the world’s biggest nation, which has kept Silicon Valley giants at arm’s length.
The initiative is also another sign of the broader industry trend of tech firms storming into medical sciences with their artificial intelligence guns drawn. Earlier this week, IBM announced plans to acquire medical imaging company Merge Health, turning its data over to IBM’s supercomputers. Google, while not fully public about its medical programs, has similar ambitions. Apple has its wearable health strategy.
Baidu’s advantage comes with scale. Ng’s team talks of delivering research that has a direct impact on the company’s bottom line, reaching “hundreds of millions” of users. China’s tremendous Internet population makes the latter goal easier.
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