Chinese search engine Baidu has created a blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) open platform.

Baidu is one of the largest Internet companies and one of the premier artificial intelligence (AI) users in the world. In December 2016, Baidu ranked 4th overall in the Alexa Internet rankings. The company was an early adopter of bitcoin. In 2013, it announced that it would be accepting bitcoin payments for its Jiasule security service. In October 2017, Baidu joined the Hyperledger Project, a Linux Foundation-led project of open source blockchains and related tools started in December 2015.

The new blockchain platform, called Baidu Trust, is a self-developed project based on blockchain technology. It uses the company’s technology to conduct and trace transactions through use cases ranging from cryptocurrency and billing to insurance management financial auditing. The company touts its “openness” and “customizability.” Registrations are open to the public and blockchain nodes are available to customize and deploy.

The BaaS platform has been operational since July 21, 2017. Baidu said that the technology has already been successfully applied for asset securitization and asset exchange. The company claimed that it has contributed to the “first asset-backed securities exchange products using blockchain technology in China.”

The BaaS platform launch is viewed as a move to compete with Chinese Internet conglomerate Tencent, which released its own suite of blockchain services in November 2017. Called “TrustSQL,” it offers digital asset management, authentication, and “shared economies,” among other services.

Source: This article was published blocktribune.com By Maricel Custodio

Categorized in Search Engine

Google has officially announced that it is opening an AI center in Beijing, China.

The confirmation comes after months of speculation fueled by a major push to hire AI talent inside the country.

Google’s search engine is blocked in China, but the company still has hundreds of staff in China which work on its international services. In reference to that workforce, Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt has said the company “never left” China, and it makes sense that Google wouldn’t want to ignore China’s deep and growing AI talent pool, which has been hailed by experts that include former Google China head Kaifu Lee.

Like the general talent with Google China, this AI hiring push isn’t a sign that Google will launch new services in China. Although it did make its Google Translate app available in China earlier this year in a rare product move on Chinese soil.

Instead, the Beijing-based team will work with AI colleagues in Google offices across the world, including New York, Toronto, London and Zurich.

“I believe AI and its benefits have no borders. Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Beijing or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone’s life better. As an AI first company, this is an important part of our collective mission. And we want to work with the best AI talent, wherever that talent is, to achieve it,” wrote Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Chief Scientist at Google Cloud, in a blog post announcing plans for the China lab.

Related...

Li, formerly the director of Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, was a high-profile arrival when she joined Google one year ago. She will lead the China-based team alongside Jia Li, who was hired from Snap where she had been head of research at the same time as Li.

The China lab has “already hired some top talent” and there are currently more than 20 jobs open, according to a vacancy listing.

“Besides publishing its own work, the Google AI China Center will also support the AI research community by funding and sponsoring AI conferences and workshops, and working closely with the vibrant Chinese AI research community,” Li added.

Google is up against some tough competitors for talent. Aside from the country’s three largest tech companies Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba, ambitious $30 billion firm Bytedance — which acquired Musical.ly for $1 billion — and fast-growing companies SenseTime and Face++ all compete for AI engineers with compensation deals growing higher.

Source: This article was published techcrunch.com By Jon Russell

Categorized in Online Research

Internet company uses technology to find potentially spurious information then turns to government agencies for verification, its president says

China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, checks out 3 billion claims of fake news every year and works closely with government agencies to tackle an issue it calls a global challenge.

The spread of rumours and false information is a problem faced by companies around the world that requires technology and cooperation with external organisations to fix, President Zhang Yaqin told Bloomberg Television. 

Baidu, one of the country’s three largest internet players, employs technology to spot potentially spurious information before turning to local agencies such as the cyberspace administration to verify items, he said.

Pressure is building on social media services from Google to Twitter to try and curb the proliferation of fake news and targeted ads that critics say have an outsized effect on public discourse and elections.

Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, said last week it was very difficult to spot fake news and propaganda using computer programs, a view echoed by former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Companies in China, where freedom of speech is heavily curtailed by censorship programs, have long used a mix of advanced technologies and human cybercops to police the internet and suppress opinions deemed to threaten social harmony.

“Every year we see somewhere around 3 billion claims, requests that we need to verify that might turn out to be fake news,” he said. “We’re using a combination of technology and content authorisation to minimise the fake news.

“We have an obligation to make sure the user gets good content, but it continues to be a challenge for us, for other companies in China, and companies in the US,” he added.

Zhang also said the company was expanding its artificial intelligence labs in America and would likely attempt to acquire more companies there as it prepares to put driverless cars on Chinese streets from 2018.

“We will probably see cars as early as next year,” he said. “In three to five years you will see some of the cars on the street as commercial vehicles.”

Source: This article was published scmp.com

Categorized in News & Politics

On Sunday, China vowed to intensify controls on search engines and online news portals. As part of President Xi Jinping’s drive to maintain the Communist Party’s power over content, the latest move will further increase the country’s Internet regulations.

China’s “cyber sovereignty” has been the main concern of Xi’s sweeping campaign to reinforce security. The Chinese president has also stressed the responsibility of the ruling Communist Party in regulating and directing the online discussion.

The Party and the State Council, or Cabinet, issued a cultural development plan covering a five-year period. The plan necessitates for “perfecting” of laws and regulations connected to the use of the Internet.

According to a report by the Xinhua News Agency, the plan includes a qualification system for people who are working in online news.

“Strike hard against online rumors, harmful information, fake news, news extortion, fake media and fake reporters,” the report said without giving details.

Xi has been clear that media must abide by the Party line, maintain the correct guidance on public opinion and support “positive propaganda.”

The plan follows the existing strict Internet controls. The current regulations prohibit access to popular foreign websites including Google and Facebook.

Last week, the government increased controls over online news portals and network providers. Such controls are essential as the country faces increasing security threats, regulators said, adding that controls are made in line with the law.

As the government seeks to boost the country’s cultural sector, the plan appeals for efforts to boost and enhance “positive propaganda.”

“Strengthen and improve supervision over public opinion,” the plan added.

The plan also beckons for increased efforts in supporting China’s standpoint and cultural soft power across the globe, without disclosing further details.

As China tightens controls on search engines and online news portals, the government is confident that its move will uphold the Communist Party’s control over Internet content.

Source: This article was published en.yibada.com By Rachel Briones

Categorized in Search Engine

BEIJING, June 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- CTR, China's leading market research and media tracking agency, recently published China Internet Search Market Competition Results Report. The report shows search engine users in the country amounted to 602 million by December 2016, increasing 36.15 million from 2015, and continuing to grow. The report also did an in-depth analysis on the competition landscape of the internet search market in mainland China, which indicates that Sogou Search has leaped into the second place in the industry in terms of penetration percentages in two segments of all connected terminals and mobile devices with 32.8 percent and 32.1 percent, respectively. In particular, Sogou's search share is widening over its nearest runner-up in mobile searches, and has become a competitive game changer in China's search market.

In addition to having a large number of users, Sogou has sharpened its market edge in generated search traffic. According to the China Cross-Platform Search Market Research Report published by BDR, Sogou ranked second with a 16.1 percent share of China's cross-platform search traffic volume, during the first quarter of 2017. It should be noted that except for Sogou and Baidu, no other search engine holds a 10 percent or larger market share of China's cross-platform search traffic. The BDR report clearly lists Sogou Search leaping into the second position of the industry in the country.

CTR: With 32.8% penetration rates in all connected terminals, Sogou Search ranks 2nd in industry
CTR: With 32.8% penetration rates in all connected terminals, Sogou Search ranks 2nd in industry
 
CTR: With 32.1% penetration rates in mobile terminals , Sogou Search ranks 2nd in industry
CTR: With 32.1% penetration rates in mobile terminals , Sogou Search ranks 2nd in industry
 
BDR: With 16.1% penetration rates in cross-platform search traffic, Sogou Search ranks 2nd in industry
BDR: With 16.1% penetration rates in cross-platform search traffic, Sogou Search ranks 2nd in industry
 
iResearch: With 76.7% mobile search engine usage rates, Sogou Search ranks 2nd in industry
iResearch: With 76.7% mobile search engine usage rates, Sogou Search ranks 2nd in industry
 
CTR: Sogou Search ranks 2nd in brand awareness & recognition rating, outpacing Google
CTR: Sogou Search ranks 2nd in brand awareness & recognition rating, outpacing Google

Also, calculated by the rapidly increasing mobile search traffic, the Sogou Mobile Search Media Value Research Report released by iResearch has indicated a 76.7 percent usage rate for Sogou, showing that it is a major player in the market.

Sogou, now taking the second slot for online searches, both in the number of users and cross-platform search traffic volume, has become the only viable challenger against the top search engine in China. It has access to elevated recognition and popularity among vast Chinese users as well. Meanwhile, the CTR report has suggested that Sogou has surpassed Google in both brand awareness and brand recognition in the mainland China market, coming in the second place of the industry.

According to the iResearch report, if evaluated with brand prestige among the broad mobile search customers in China, users often define Sogou as a search engine that is "smart", "innovative", "multi-functional", "amusing", "young and dynamic".

Its industry-leading artificial intelligence (AI) R&D and sequential differentiated AI innovative products meet a whole array of user search demands. These are the key reasons behind Sogou's rising popularity among Chinese users and why it becomes the second largest search engine in the market.

Focusing on the core strategy of "Organic Interaction + Knowledge computing" and persisting in artificial intelligence development, Sogou is already the technology leader in the industry. Years ago, Sogou partnered with the renowned Tsinghua University, one of the top universities of China, established Tian Gong Institute of Intelligence Computing in April 2016 and dedicated to cutting-edge artificial intelligence R&D. The institute constantly makes breakthroughs in artificial intelligence technologies -- including image and voice recognition, language understanding, knowledge mapping and machine translation -- and incorporating AI achievements with search applications. 

For instance, Sogou's smart question replying system named "Li Zhi" or "Instant Answering" has proved to be a phenomenon in online searching. Any queries in the form of conventional expression of human languages could lead to instant answers, as Sogou's AI technology advances enable it to do cyber-wide data filtering, semantic analysis, question comprehension, information extraction, and deep distinguishing.

Aided by artificial intelligence, Sogou has made medication more interactive and much easier, too. Sogou Mingyi, developed by the company, now acts as de-facto "smart diagnosing assistant" for patients. By imitating dialogues between doctors and patients, it helps users get to know the category of their ailments and potential treatments, even before they see their doctors.

Moreover, Sogou has launched the first cross-linguistic search engine in the world -- Sogou English Search, which is based on the world's leading Sogou "Neural Machine Translation (NMT) technology, effectively breaking down the language barrier and enabling Chinese users to search and browse all English information more conveniently.

Sogou's rising to the number two spot in China's search market is attributed to its nonstop artificial intelligence research results and applications, and its strategy of sticking to differentiated development of innovative AI products. Sogou has successively launched vertical channels including Sogou Mingyi, Sogou Academic, and Sogou Facial Expression, after its exclusive access to valuable resources like Wechat and Zhihu (Chinese version of Quora). The resourceful content matrix provides users with diversified opinions and profound knowledge, satisfying users' various needs.

The CTR report suggests that China's search industry has entered a period of steady growth, primarily driven by technology innovations. Sogou with its forward-looking vision will continue to lead in the industry. Adhering to its leading artificial intelligence research and development and its set policy of providing the best and differentiated search services, Sogou is poised to win even more customers and obtain a larger slice of China's search share.

Source: This article was published prnewswire.com

Categorized in Search Engine

Beijing's bid to mine space rocks could bring so much wealth back to Earth that it crashes the planet's economy

CHINA plans to build a base on an asteroid and begin mining billions or even trillions of dollars worth of precious metals.

Yesterday, a top scientist revealed plans to land an unmanned craft on a space rock, potentially putting Beijing’s asteroid miners in direct competition with American space prospectors.

Asteroids could contain incredible riches worth billions or even trillions

Asteroids could contain incredible riches worth billions or even trillions

The asteroid will then be mined or even used to piggyback probes into deep space.

Ye Peijian, a deep-space exploration expert at the China Academy of Space Technology, told an “asteroid exploration forum” that 900 space rocks zoom past Earth every year.

Many of these priceless asteroids contain vast amounts of metals such as platinum, iridium or rhodium.

A Chinese ‘Long March’ rocket takes on a mission into space

A Chinese ‘Long March’ rocket takes on a mission into space

“In the near future, we will study ways to send robots or astronauts to mine suitable asteroids and transport the resources back to Earth,” he said, according to China Daily.

“In the long term, we will consider using resources from asteroids to build facilities in space or to provide materials to support interstellar travel.”

The asteroids could also be used on deep space missions and serve as “bases for interstellar exploration”.

The Chinese boffin suggested an unmanned probe could hitch a ride on the asteroid and then travel off into deep space, which would drastically cut down on the amount of fuel needed to power the probe.

The global investment bank Goldman Sachs has claimed mining asteroids for precious metals is a “realistic” goal.

It is believed an asteroid the size of a football field could be worth up to £40 billion.

However, bringing that much platinum back to Earth is likely to crash the precious metal market - and probably the rest of the economy with it.

Earlier this year, NASA said it was planning a mission to an asteroid worth £8,072 quadrillion ($10,000 quadrillion), according to Lindy Elkins-Tanton, lead scientist on the mission.

It is called 16 Psyche and is a massive hunk of the iron and nickel.

The mysterious "metal world" was formed during the turbulent birth of our solar system.

It is valued at £8,072 quadrillion ($10,000 quadrillion), according to Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the lead scientist on the NASA mission.

Source: This article was published thesun.co.uk By Jasper Hamill

Categorized in Science & Tech

China’s already-big WeChat is searching for how to get even bigger. The answer? Search.

Today the company publicly unveiled (link in Chinese) a feature—called “Search,” simply enough—that lets users enter keywords and find relevant information.

While WeChat has had a search feature in the past, this one is more powerful. It’s not quite a search engine in the style of Google or Baidu, the reigning search engine of China. Rather, it’s an alternate vision of search, one that’s uniquely suited to a social media app. And it could very well become huge in China.

Searching Google for “Apple iPhone” will typically yield ads at the very top, followed by recent news articles, YouTube and Wikipedia pages, and addresses of nearby Apple stores. Baidu works in a similar way. Clicking on the offered links takes the user to a page completely outside of Google or Baidu.

Searching in WeChat.

 Searching in WeChat. (Quartz)

WeChat’s search feature is a bit more social. Searching for “Apple” yields recent news at the very top, followed by mentions of Apple made by one’s friends. An assortment of random articles follows at the bottom. Tapping on any of these links—even the articles—always keeps one within WeChat’s built-in browser, and many of the linked articles are ones published directly to WeChat (much like Facebook’s “Instant Articles”). Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, did not answer questions about how it devises its results rankings.

To put it simply, it’s a “walled garden” approach to search. Whereas Google and Baidu’s vision of search entails aggregating everything published on the internet, WeChat’s entails aggregating everything that’s published and shared on WeChat. And when you tap on something, you always stay inside WeChat.

WeChat has plenty of data to draw from to build and perfect a search engine. With 938 million registered monthly users, it not only knows who your friends are (more than Baidu or Google do), it knows what they read and share, and what you read and share. It knows where you and your friends are located, and what you buy. And it’s addictive—50% of WeChat users spend more than 90 minutes per day on the app.

WeChat can also benefit from Tencent owning a stake in Sogou, which is an also-ran search engine in China but has potentially valuable data and technology.

Meanwhile, in recent years, WeChat has become a major publishing platform for traditional news sites, online media, and solo bloggers alike. Publishers will often push articles directly to WeChat through “Public Accounts” (rough analogs to Facebook Pages) that subscribers will read and share, eschewing external websites altogether. This search feature collects all the content published to WeChat (and more), and makes it easier for everyone to discover. And when they cruise through news-oriented search results, they’ll still never leave the confines of WeChat.

While the feature remains in its early stages, it will likely become a boon to Tencent. Many Chinese internet users spend most of their online lives in WeChat. This search feature gives them one more reason to do so.

If WeChat perfects its search capabilities, expect a giant of the Chinese internet to suffer. Baidu, China’s Google analog, has reported slowing revenue growth and declining operating profits. It makes most of its money from Chinese advertisers that are now keen to put their ads in more vibrant real estate—like WeChat.

While Tencent’s stock price has soared over the past two years, Baidu’s has wavered. Since Nov. 14, 2014, its last high, Baidu’s share price has tanked 25.5%, according to FactSet. Within the same time period, Tencent’s has jumped 96.9%.

Source: This article was published qz.com By Josh Horwitz

Categorized in Search Engine

China will further tighten its internet regulations with a pledge on Sunday to strengthen controls over search engines and online news portals, the latest step in President Xi Jinping's push to maintain strict Communist Party control over content.

Xi has made China's "cyber sovereignty" a top priority in his sweeping campaign to bolster security. He has also reasserted the ruling Communist Party's role in limiting and guiding online discussion.

The five-year cultural development and reform plan released by the party and State Council, or Cabinet, calls for a "perfecting" of laws and rules related to the internet.

That includes a qualification system for people working in online news, according to the plan, carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

"Strike hard against online rumors, harmful information, fake news, news extortion, fake media and fake reporters," it said, without giving details.

Xi has been explicit that media must follow the party line, uphold the correct guidance on public opinion and promote "positive propaganda." The plan comes on top of existing tight internet controls, which includes the blocking of popular foreign websites such as Google and Facebook.

    The government last week issued tighter rules for online news portals and network providers. Regulators say such controls are necessary in the face of growing security threats, and are done in accordance with the law.

    Speaking more broadly about the country's cultural sector, the plan calls for efforts to reinforce and improve "positive propaganda".

    "Strengthen and improve supervision over public opinion," it added.

    The plan also calls for more effort to be put into promoting China's point of view and cultural soft power globally, though without giving details.

    Source : This article was published in newsweek.com By REUTERS

    Categorized in Search Engine

    (Bloomberg) -- It’s time for the humans to have another Go.

    An artificial intelligence program romped to a lopsided victory over South Korean Go master Lee Sedol in 2016. Now, Google DeepMind’s AI software is heading to the 2,500-year-old board game’s roots, taking on top-ranked Chinese player Ke Jie in May in a formal re-match between man and machine.

    The Alphabet Inc. company and China’s government are convening a five-day AI symposium from May 23 in the picturesque water-town of Wuzhen, expected to draw some of the top minds in the field from both Google and around the country. The proceedings include not just the marquee human-AI match-up, but also a number of experimental matches in which Go masters may team up with their own AI counterparts, or join forces against a single machine player.

    The idea is to showcase the evolution of machine intelligence, Demis Hassabis, chief executive officer and and co-founder of Google DeepMind, wrote in a blog post. The aim of the forum is to discuss how machine-learning methods behind AlphaGo can be useful in grappling with real-world issues such as energy consumption.

    “There remains much more to learn from this partnership between Go’s best human players and its most creative A.I. competitor,” Hassabis wrote.

    AlphaGo made headlines last year after winning a five-match tournament against Lee, who was considered the world’s best player of Go over the past decade. DeepMind’s success astounded experts, who thought it would take as much as a decade before AI could beat top-ranked professional players of the game. While its rules are simple -- players battle for territory by placing white or black stones on a 19-by-19 grid of squares -- it’s regarded as far more complex than chess, by an order of magnitude of 10 followed by 99 zeros.

    The widely covered contest provoked discussion on social media about whether the AI could in fact beat a player from the nation that spawned the game several millennia ago. AlphaGo, however, has since engaged in a number of casual online matches -- including with Ke Jie -- and consistently won.

    Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. last month also pitted its "Jueyi" AI against human players, to demonstrate the company’s growing prowess in computer science. But AlphaGo’s original victory in Seoul positioned Google as a leader in next-generation super-smart computing. The search giant now uses AI in a range of products -- automatically writing emails, recommending YouTube videos and helping cars drive themselves.

    Author: Bloomberg News
    Source: https://www.information-management.com/news/googles-alphago-ai-takes-on-china-after-south-korean-triumph

    Categorized in Search Engine

    HONGKONG: Outsiders are often told that doing business in China is unique. Winston Ma brings a fresh and eye-opening perspective to that platitude in "China's Mobile Economy". But his timely guide to the fascinating forces powering the country's tech sector plays down the difficulties faced by foreign groups.

    The author, a managing director at sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation, is a corporate lawyer turned investment banker who has worked in both the United States and China. A Chinese native, Ma provides valuable insights into what makes the country's 620 million mobile web consumers tick - and the array of corporate titans, startups, and investors vying for their attention. Collectively, they make up China's booming "mobile economy".

    For those familiar with Western tech trends, this is alien territory. One of the first peculiarities Ma highlights is Singles' Day, a distinctly Chinese phenomenon. Every Nov. 11, e-commerce behemoth Alibaba hosts a 24-hour online shopping extravaganza of unprecedented proportions, accompanied by a glitzy gala which has in the past featured stars from Daniel Craig to Adam Lambert. It is the "single most important day each year for online vendors to target young, tech-savvy consumers who are accustomed to buying online", Ma states. On the most recent Singles' Day, transactions on the group's platforms topped a whopping $18 billion, with $5 billion changing hands in the first hour alone.

    Ma's analysis of Chinese consumers, makes for the book's most interesting parts. "Social engagement and purchasing behaviour are so intertwined in China that Chinese customers tend to seek friends' input before they make shopping decisions", he points out. That helps explain the rise of WeChat, the popular Chinese chat app and social network owned by gaming giant Tencent. Though it's often compared to Facebook's WhatsApp, this ignores the fact that WeChat enables users to shop online, pay bills and play games, among other things. It has become an indispensable part of and powerful force in China's mobile internet.

    The ultimate prize for Tencent and its rivals, however, is creating a seamless platform that links customers to goods, services, experiences and entertainment in the physical world. Alibaba, Tencent and search engine Baidu - collectively known as the BAT trio - are expanding their digital empires to include so-called "online to offline" services like taxi bookings and restaurant deals, movies and TV shows, as well as financial services and payments. It is here where Chinese companies are exploring innovations that diverge significantly from Western counterparts Google, Amazon and Facebook.

    Ma's analysis of the resulting investment frenzy is less compelling. He points out that investors are concerned with companies touting cash-burning subsidies, unsustainable business models, and frothy valuations. But he stops short of addressing the risks and follies of over-expansion.

    The book touts LeEco, known for its video-streaming platform and TV sets, as an example of a company combining hardware and content. It doesn't mention, however, that the group is facing a cash shortage after charging into electric cars, sports media, movie production, cloud computing, and smartphones. Shares of LeEco's listed arm have slumped some 40 percent in the past year. Similarly, rival Xiaomi, the $45 billion smartphone maker, has pushed ahead into content, software, as well as smart home devices ranging from rice cookers to air purifiers. The company recently admitted it expanded too fast. In a letter to employees, the group's chief executive acknowledged the need to slow down.

    Ma's discussion of foreign tech groups in China also has some shortcomings. It's true that Amazon, eBay, and more recently Uber China lost out to local rivals in the grab for market share. But the book leaves out the difficulties that other companies have faced even getting a foot in the door: Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat and Twitter are just a few examples of apps that are blocked in China.

    For many outsiders, China's mobile economy will be too big to ignore. Despite regulatory hurdles, foreign investment restrictions, censorship, intellectual property concerns and anti-trust scrutiny, groups like Facebook are still pushing ahead. The social network led by Mark Zuckerberg has even developed a censorship tool to appease China's regulators, the New York Times reported in November. And home-rental startup Airbnb, last valued at $30 billion, has been striking local partnerships and working closely with regulators, its chief financial officer told Bloomberg in December.

    It's clear that the stakes and opportunities in China's mobile internet are immense. So are the challenges and risks - particularly for outsiders.

    Source : http://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/mapping-out-chinas-fast-changing-internet/56512464

    Categorized in Internet Privacy
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