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China's homegrown AI sector takes off

Baidu CEO Robin Li, right, positions AI as a core business.

BEIJING -- China looks to build a native artificial intelligence industry reaching 100 billion yuan ($14.9 billion) by 2018, with over 100 such firms materializing so far.

Baidu's virtual assistant Duer stole the show at the company's technology expo Thursday by giving a play-by-play of a professional basketball game that matched a video. The program automatically pieced together colorful commentary, which described a "sweet" dunk by U.S. superstar Kevin Durant, after learning dialogue from famous sports announcers. That feat was aided further by Baidu's image recognition technology. CEO Robin Li credits deep learning for fueling the dramatic progress of AI technology over just a few years.

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