Baidu Sets Out Its Ambitions for AI, Cloud Computing, Amid ‘New Infrastructure’ Push

Baidu has joined the ranks of China’s big-tech names laying out blueprints for “new infrastructure” projects, a key pillar of the government’s policy to accelerate the tech-driven structural upgrade of China’s economy as part of its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Friday, the search giant announced massive plans to increase its investment in artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, data centers and chips over the next decade.

A major goal of Baidu’s plan, which did not specify investment amounts, is to have more than 5 million intelligent cloud servers by 2030, by which time China aims to become a global leader in AI, according to a company statement.

By 2030, Baidu cloud servers’ computing capability should be seven times stronger than the combined computing power of the world’s top 500 supercomputers, the statement said.

Baidu also plans to train 5 million AI experts in the next five years, the statement added. The Beijing-based company claimed that it has so far worked with more than 200 Chinese higher education institutions to jointly develop courses related to deep learning and AI.

China’s Ministry of Education approved requests by 180 universities to set up new AI-related undergraduate majors last year, up from just 35 a year ago, the South China Morning Post reported in March, citing a government document. The move was seen as part of Beijing’s renewed efforts to narrow its talent gap with the U.S. amid Washington’s tightening restrictions on the transfer of technology to Chinese companies.

“New infrastructure” refers to infrastructure projects that support tech and science-based developments involving AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, robotics and 5G, among others. Previously, Alibaba and Tencent have unveiled plans to increase their own “new infrastructure” bets.

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