Without the technical know-how and the right tools, training machine learning algorithms can be an exercise in frustration. Luckily, for folks who don’t have the wherewithal to wade through the jargon, Baidu this week launched an online tool in beta — EZDL — that makes it easy for virtually anyone to build, design, and deploy artificial intelligence (AI) models without writing a single line of code.

Baidu’s EZDL was built with performance, ease of use, and security in mind, said Youping Yu, general manager of Baidu’s AI ecosystem division, and it targets three broad categories of machine learning: image classification, object detection, and sound classification. It’s aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, with the goal of “breaking down the barrier” to allow everyone to access AI “in the most convenient and equitable way,” Yu said.

To train a model, EZDL requires 20-100 images, or more than 50 audio files, assigned to each label, and training takes between 15 minutes and an hour. (Baidu claims that more than two-thirds of models get accuracy scores higher than 90 percent.) Generated algorithms can be deployed in the cloud and accessed via an API, or downloaded in the form of a software development kit that supports iOS, Android, and other operating systems.

Baidu EZDL

Above: The Baidu EZDL dashboard.

Image Credit: Baidu

Home decorating website Idcool used EZDL to train systems that automatically identify the design and style of a room with 90 percent accuracy, Yu said. An unnamed medical institution tapped it to build a detection model for blood test microscope imagery. And a security monitoring firm used it to make a sound-detecting algorithm that can recognize “abnormal” audio patterns that might signal a break-in.

“As one of [the] global leaders in AI, Baidu embodies its mission of making a complex world simpler through technology,” Yu said. “Baidu has continued to lead and promote the development and applications of AI. Through our Global Business Unit, we are devoted to sharing Baidu’s core technologies, capabilities, and resources with the global community … We are excited to see innovative use cases from the global community. It is our hope that by opening up the platform and democratizing AI capabilities, we will help developers and businesses around the world achieve greater success.”

Baidu’s made its AI ambitions clear in the two years since it launched Baidu Brain, its eponymous platform for enterprise AI. The company says more than 600,000 developers are currently using Brain 3.0 — the newest version, released in July 2018 — for 110 AI services across 20 industries.

Also in July, Baidu took the wraps off Kunlun, an AI chip designed to handle models for on-device edge computing and datacenter processing. When it launches in the coming months, the company claims it’ll be able to achieve 260 tera-operations (TOPs) per second and 512GB/second memory bandwidth. (Google’s Tensor Processing Unit hits up to 100 petaflops.)

In August, Baidu announced that DuerOS, its conversational AI assistant, has reached an install base of 100 million devices, up from 50 million six months prior. To date, more than 200 partners have launched 110 DuerOS-powered devices, and about 16,000 software developers are actively contributing to its apps marketplace.

“We seek to create a true ecosystem for AI, democratizing access to AI capabilities,” Yu said. “Technology has no borders.”