AI talent grab sparks excitement and concern

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Robin Li, head of China’s web giant Baidu, unveils the firm’s intelligent digital assistant, Duer. When Andrew Ng joined Google from Stanford University in 2011, he was among a trickle of artificial-intelligence (AI) experts in academia taking up roles in industry. Five years later, demand for expertise in AI is booming — and a torrent of researchers is following Ng’s lead. The laboratories of tech titans Google, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM and Baidu (China’s web-services giant) are stuffed with ex-university scientists, drawn to private firms’ superior computing resources and salaries. “Some people in academia blame me for starting part of this,” says Ng, who in 2014 moved again to become chief scientist at Baidu, working at the company’s research lab in California’s Silicon Valley. A world where everyone has a…

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