The Chinese search giant, Baidu, announced last week that it has hired the head of Google’s “deep learning” project, Andrew Ng. Ng will now assume the role of chief data scientist for Baidu’s new research initiative, taking the lead of labs in Beijing and Sunnyvale, California.

“Andrew is the ideal individual to lead our research efforts as we enter an era where AI plays an increasingly pronounced role,” Robin Li, the chief executive of Baidu, said in a statement. “[Andrew is] a true visionary and key contributor to the field of artificial intelligence.”

Ng is the co-founder of the popular online education company, Coursera, and worked on deep learning as an artificial intelligence researcher at Stanford. He also spearheaded the Google Brain team, which famously “got 16,000 computers to train themselves to recognize images of cats in videos, simply by making them watch a bunch of YouTube.”

Over the past few years, deep learning has become a point of focus for Internet companies. For example, Microsoft announced last year that it has more than 65 PhD researchers working on deep learning. Google and Facebook are also moving in the same direction, with the former acquiring DeepMind earlier this year and the latter hiring deep learning professor Yann LeCun late last year for its AI Lab. As Ng said in an interview with Re/code, “this trend is because of the rise of big data. All of us have more access to data than we did. Deep learning is the single most powerful tool to turn this data into actionable insights.”

Baidu is expecting to hire 150 to 200 people by the end of 2015.

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