Last Friday, Baidu pitted their artificial intelligence against China’s best minds in the Season 4 premiere of Zui Qiang Danao (最强大脑 or The Brain in English), a popular weekly show featuring contestants performing feats of mental agility.

Seasons 1-3 all featured international competitions between China and visiting teams, leading sometimes to uncomfortable results. However, after Alipay’s facial recognition AI Mark lost to Wang Yuheng last year in an unrelated competition, The Brain’s producers decided to invite Baidu’s Xiaodu on as a contestant.

Coming in a cute package that has simulated facial expressions and can respond to questions, Xiaodu is actually just an avatar for Baidu’s proprietary AI, Baidu Brain. Interestingly, Baidu’s team chose for Xiaodu to compete in areas where computers are particularly weak: face and voice recognition. If it does well, then, perhaps we can say that their AI is robust enough for commercial use.

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John Artman

John Artman is the Editor in Chief for TechNode, the leading English information source for news and insight into China’s tech and startups, and co-host of the China Tech Talk podcast, a regular discussion...