Chinese search giant Baidu Inc. today officially launched a new operating system dedicated to advancing conversational artificial intelligence capabilities, as the company aims to take on similar efforts from competitors such as Google Inc.
Called the “Duer OS Prometheus Project,” the operating system is a conversation-based AI platform that is already providing conversational support to 10 major domains and more than 100 subdomains in China. Launched in beta at the beginning of the year, the code base is claimed to be the top choice already for third-party hardware manufacturers in China in areas such as TV settop boxes, storytelling machines and smart speakers that are seeking Mandarin language voice recognition support.
“Voice is increasingly becoming how we interact with our devices today,” Kaihua Zhu, chief technology officer of Baidu’s DuerOS, said in a statement. “Open datasets, interdisciplinary collaboration and financial incentives will create the conditions necessary for rapid advancement of conversational AI.”
Baidu is seeking broader support for the operating system and has launched a $1 million fund to invest in startups that use the code base as well as a program dedicated to working with universities and research organizations to conduct joint training, course design and workshops.
By the numbers, the system appears impressive, with a dataset that includes thousands of hours of Mandarin speech recognition data to allow systems to be trained to hear human speech accurately in complex circumstances such as in noisy environments. The OS also provides support for multiturn conversational competence, so the AI can understand a conversation well enough to deliver a satisfying response.