Baidu Debuts DuerOS Prometheus Project For Conversational AI

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Baidu has moved to advance its conversational artificial intelligence (AI) push by introducing the DuerOS Prometheus Project, a new initiative by the Chinese internet giant that includes a large pool of conversational AI datasets as well as $1 million in funding for talent development and a wide variety of conversational AI projects in collaboration with various partners. During the announcement event for the project held in Redwood City, California, Kaihua Zhu, chief technology officer of Baidu’s DuerOS, said the advancement of conversational AI requires several factors such as “open datasets, interdisciplinary collaborations, and financial incentives,” noting how voice has become a means for interacting with various devices at present.

As part of the project, Baidu will provide developers access to its large datasets in various areas such as far field wake word detection, far field speech recognition, and multi-turn conversations. There are about half a million voice clips in the wake word detection dataset involving some popular wake words in Chinese, which include “xiaodu xiaodu” that is used to switch on DuerOS. Also, developers and technologists will be able to gain access to thousands of hours of Mandarin speech recognition data, which they can use to help people train systems designed to listen to human speech despite background noise. Finally, the DuerOS Prometheus Project intends to provide developers with thousands of dialogue data that span 10 domains as part of an effort to advance the multi-turn conversation technology. Developers can then use the data to refine and train their conversational AI algorithms.

The project does not just involve releasing open datasets to developers. Baidu also wants to jointly hold training programs, design courses and conduct workshops with universities and researchers with the goal of sharing ideas related to conversational AI and eventually develop skills in this category. Baidu has been growing its stake in the AI space in recent times. In July of this year, Baidu and NVIDIA announced their partnership meant to work on AI-powered technology spread across several markets including cloud computing, self-driving cars, and digital home assistants. The partnership is intended to add Baidu’s DuerOS conversational AI system to NVIDIA SHIELD TV units in China. At the same time, Baidu and audio software company Conexant also teamed up to advance voice-enabled products and services powered by AI. Baidu is expected to continue its push in the conversational AI space over the coming years.