Biggest difference between Chinese and Western AI lies in applications: Baidu CEO Robin Li
Published: May 23, 2024 05:17 PM
AI Photo:VCG

AI Photo:VCG

The biggest difference between Chinese and Western AI lies in applications. It will take more than ten years to reach the artificial general intelligence (AGI) era, Baidu CEO Robin Li said on Wednesday, while calling for increasing AI investment and development.

"A lot of people talk about AGI, they say: no, it's probably two years away, it's probably five years away. I think it's more than 10 years away," Li made the remarks during a fireside chat with Maurice Lévy, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Publicis Groupe when he attended VivaTech, Europe's biggest event dedicated to start-ups and tech in Paris.

Li emphasized his conviction that "an application-driven approach can also propel innovation in the foundation model and speed up the transformation from an internet age to an AI age."

He added that in China, the focus is increasingly on creating super apps for the AI age, or killer AI native apps. ERNIE Bot, Baidu's conversational AI bot released in March 2023, now has 200 million accumulated users.

Speaking to his expectations for the emergence of a new format to harness the power of AI and align with consumer demand, Li said he would expect some kind of brand-new format to come out that becomes increasingly popular, that can reach over 100 million DAUs (daily active users).
Regarding the question of whether focusing on applications will neglect the development of basic models, Li's answer was 'no'. 

Li believes that AI applications and the development of basic large models complement each other. The progress of applications can promote the innovation of basic models and help accelerate the transition from the Internet era to the era of artificial intelligence.

Talking of his desire to ramp up the pace of AI improvement, Li said the fear is that AI technology is not improving fast enough. Everyone is shocked at how fast the technology evolved over the past couple of years, but to me it's still not fast enough. It's too slow."
Li argued that many are overstating how quickly we might arrive at AGI. "A lot of people talk about AGI, they say: no, it's probably two years away, it's probably five years away. I think it's more than 10 years away," Li said.
In his perspective, in the mobile age, people have apps like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok. But the daily active users are in the order of like a few hundred million to a billion users. And for AI native apps, "we don't see that yet."

The remarks also came amid the background as Chinese technology companies such as Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance aim to hit the market with new large-language models (LLMs) and cut fees for application programming interface (API) access to these models, a move that industry insiders said is primarily of interest to business users.

The explosion of LLMs has led tech giants to race toward innovation, releasing successive iterations of LLMs amid a new wave of lower fees.

Meanwhile, in comments at the Elysee Palace on May 21, where Robin Li was a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron alongside tech entrepreneurs and investors, he stressed the duty of players like Baidu to ensure that AI develops in a socially responsible fashion. 
Viva Technology is Europe's biggest start-up and tech event. It accelerates innovation by connecting startups, tech leaders, major corporations and investors responding to our world's biggest challenges. 

Global Times