Baidu’s Deep Learning Patent Could Add to AI Smartphones

Baidu wants to help chatbots work outside their wheelhouse with a patent that lets AI models lean on other apps for information.

Photo of a Baidu patent
Photo via U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

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Baidu wants to help its AI models color outside the lines. 

The Chinese internet giant filed a patent application for “deep learning model based data generation.” This tech essentially helps conversational AI models function more accurately and efficiently outside of the capabilities that it was trained for. 

To put it simply, Baidu’s tech essentially allows AI models to outsource questions to outside applications. Here’s how it works: Upon receiving a user’s input or query, the model may determine that its response requires a “functional component” outside of the model’s understanding. 

If a model decides it can’t respond to a question on its own, it will put out a “token” calling or an external component to help it come up with an answer. The external component will give it the data it needs, and the model will use that to craft an appropriate response.

For example, if a user asks a chatbot, “what’s the weather like today in Los Angeles,” and the chatbot doesn’t have that information, it could connect to a weather application to get the data it needs to properly inform its response. While the weather app wouldn’t be responsible for writing the response directly, the model could use that data to reply “It’s 75 degrees and sunny. Have a great day.” 

Using this method, Baidu noted, “capability enhancement is further implemented for the deep learning model that has been able to perform tasks such as understanding and generation, thereby improving the quality of the finally generated reply.” 

Baidu’s patent filings are littered with AI-based inventions, ranging from AI-generated 3D video to computer vision surveillance to improved speech recognition by voice assistants. 

The company is working hard to stand out among the crowded AI market. Ernie Bot, the company’s ChatGPT rival, flopped upon its initial release last March. But since its mass rollout in August after approval from the Chinese government and the launch of Ernie 4.0 in October, the company’s chatbot has surpassed 100 million users

However, the tech in this patent could be particularly useful in phones. The number of applications that a smartphone has to offer could allow for Baidu’s chatbots a large well of information to work with. Given Friday’s announcement that Baidu is partnering with Samsung to integrate Ernie’s capabilities into Galaxy S24 smartphones, this patent could offer a peek at what’s to come. 

The news adds another player in the race to bring AI capabilities to smartphones. Apple is expected to unveil new AI features for Siri, Apple Music and Messages in June with the debut of iOS 18, and Google has marketed AI as a prime selling point for its Pixel 8.