Baidu backed out of a U.S.-led effort to promote ethics in AI, leaving the project without a Chinese presence.

What’s new: The Beijing-based search giant withdrew from the Partnership on AI, a consortium of businesses, nonprofits, and research organizations that promotes cooperation on issues like digital privacy and algorithmic bias, Wired reported.

Mixed Motivations: Baidu joined the organization in 2018 as its first and only Chinese member. Other members include Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft as well as organizations like the U.N. and Human Rights Watch.

  • Baidu explained its decision as a response to the partnership’s high membership fees and its on financial woes. Wired estimates that for-profit companies pay a few hundred thousand dollars for membership. Baidu’s 2019 revenue was $15.4 billion.
  • Experts believe that Baidu’s departure had more to do with rising tensions between the U.S. and China.

Behind the news: Much of the Partnership on AI’s work involves research and education. Recent projects include a symposium on bias in machine learning, a study of how organizations can deploy explainable AI, and an interactive blog that explains face recognition to the general public. The group doesn’t lobby politicians directly, but it does aim to make its research relevant to policymakers.

Why it matters: The U.S. and China are the world’s top AI powerhouses. Baidu’s exit from the organization will affect its ability to influence AI globally toward fairness and justice.

We’re thinking: The AI community spans many nations, and many bonds hold it together. Let’s keep building bridges and working to ensure that AI is used for the common good.

Share

Subscribe to The Batch

Stay updated with weekly AI News and Insights delivered to your inbox