Baidu’s facial recognition finds missing boy, 27 years later

China’s largest search engine has integrated artificial intelligence to improve its products and expand business opportunities following a 9 percent profit decline in the last quarter.

Although the company deploys controversial features and has been accused of invasion of privacy after asking users to give away their phone numbers and Chinese ID to set up an account, Baidu’s facial recognition has proven effective in helping a family find their missing child who had been abducted 27 years earlier.

The technology matched photos posted by both the missing person and his family on a website specialized in reuniting families. Before official release, Baidu had been testing facial recognition for approximately six months.

“Of the 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) Baidu spent in research and development over the past two and a half years, the majority goes to AI,” Forbes writes following an interview with the Wang Haifeng, Baidu’s vice president and head of artificial intelligence.

In terms of current and future plans, Baidu is focused on improving image recognition, which for now can only match pictures taken six years apart, on predicting traffic for Maps, making better recommendations for its users and delivery time estimation.

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