The intelligent assistant wars continue to heat up. As reported in Tech Times and other news sources, Baidu used their World Conference on September 8th to announce the launch of a new digital intelligent assistant called Duer. Duer is a voice-driven assistant that is currently integrated into Baidu’s Android search app. The company has plans to incorporate Duer into other services and products in the future.
Based on descriptions of Duer, the assistant has core capabilities in search that you would expect. But Duer appears to be very task-oriented as well. Duer can respond to spoken or text instructions to execute tasks that include: buying movie tickets, making restaurant reservations, ordering food for takeout or delivery, booking a ride with a ride sharing service, and purchasing airline tickets. Future iterations of the assistant are expected to control devices within the connected home and integrate with Baidu shopping apps.
Andrew Ng is Baidu Research’s Chief Scientist in Silicon Valley. Ng is also an associate professor at Stanford University and an expert in machine learning and deep learning. Before joining Baidu, Ng founded the Google Brain project at Google. Ng’s work in machine learning is wide-ranging, but one of his notable areas of research has been in visual learning. It appears that some of Ng’s knowledge will be applied in Duer’s ability to scan user reviews to discern answers to questions such as “is the restaurant pet friendly?” Presumably the intelligent assistant will make the conclusion that a restaurant with lots of dogs on the patio is a good place to bring Fido.
Ng is one of the rock stars of deep learning, so it will be interesting to watch the developing battle of intelligent assistants powered by artificial intelligence that is shaping up between Google, Facebook, Apple, Baidu and, to some extent, Microsoft.