Baidu founder Robin Li (R) alongside managing director of McKinsey Dominic Barton at the China Development Forum, Beijing, March 26 2018. /VCG Photo
The Baidu founder, who has a net worth of 13.2 billion US dollars, said only 20 percent of useful data is available online, while the remaining 80 percent “lies in the hands of enterprises. If more of that data can be put together, our capacity to achieve more will rise exponentially.”
Li went on further to explain that he thought “Chinese people can be even more open, and not so sensitive about data protection. If they are willing to exchange private data for convenience, and people are willing to do so under many circumstances, then we can make more use of that data.”
The overwhelming majority of comments on Sina Weibo regarding Li’s comments were negative, with one top-rated comment calling the Baidu CEO “shameless and despicable,” adding it was “a great sorrow that such a person was regarded as a key opinion leader in his industry.”
Other comments said Li’s views were “typical of Baidu acting with pride rather than a sense of shame” when it comes to “trampling on people’s private information.”
In January, Microsoft president Brad Smith told the Wall Street Journal that privacy laws were “restricting AI development” in certain countries, in a nod to China’s rapid development in the sector.