There Isn’t Much Opportunity Left For The Mobile Internet, Said Baidu’s Founder Robin Lee

摘要: "The era of AI has already come, along with tons of opportunities. Therefore, it would be too old-fashioned to still focus simply on smartphones and carry out some 'common practices'", said Baidu's founder, CEO and chairman.

(Chinese Version)

Editor’s Note:

During the “2017 Baidu Union Summit”, Robin Lee, founder, CEO and chairman of Baidu, delivered a keynote speech titled “Way of Thinking in the AI Era”. From his perspective, the AI era begets a special way of thinking different from that of the PC era and mobile internet era.

What should you do to be part of the future? In a recent speech, Lee shared his insights over the way of thinking that fit the AI era.

Smartphones will continue to be part of people’s lives, but there isn’t much opportunity for the mobile internet. The era of AI has already come, along with tons of opportunities. Therefore, it would be too old-fashioned to still focus simply on smartphones and carry out some “common practices”.

Lee cited Baidu’s internal meeting as an example: while product managers of mobile products pay more attention to fonts and buttons, product managers of AI products often adopt an entirely different way of thinking and prefer to talk about technological applications of chips. As Mark Zuckerburg once said, if a PM still used PC screenshots to illustrate mobile products, he would refuse to continue the meeting.

While internet companies concentrate more on software in the PC and mobile internet era, they’ve got to shift their way of thinking and think more from the perspective of technology and experience. For example, the integration microphone technology in speech interaction with radar sensors in unmanned automobiles is a typical example of “hardware plus software”. Besides, many smart loudspeakers no longer include keyboards to complete human-machine interaction. Instead, users can directly interact with smart loudspeakers via microphones. In the AI era, it’s of vital importance to integrate hardware and software together.

In the AI era, the more “clear” data an internet company has, the more capable its AI technology becomes in terms of deep learning. That’s why many Baidu’s engineers believed that “algorithm is no match for data”. However, Lee didn’t think so. “It is algorithm, not data, that drives social progress,” Lee said. He cited the example of James Watt’s steam engines, and reasoned that it was his reinvention of steam engines that really drove the first Industrial Revolution.

In this sense, it constitutes “dimension reduction” if an internet company develops an internet product via the way of thinking in the AI era. For example, while many people are still searching for information with keyboards, Mobile Baidu already allows users to search via speech or photos. The earlier an internet company shifts its way of thinking, the earlier it could stand at the front of the times.

In addition, Lee demonstrated the development of AI technology in the past year with three short videos, illustrating new functions including controlling TVs via speech recognition, paying bills and identifying missing people via face recognition.

“Still, I am not satisfied with the user experience at the present stage, since I have to press ‘Confirm’ to complete payment. This gesture is still a symbol of the mobile internet era, not the AI era,” he concluded.

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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @TMTPost-Chinese please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]

Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.

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