China’s Baidu Inc. announced on Tuesday that it is nearing the completion of internal testing of its ChatGPT-style chatbot. The firm stated that testing of the chatbot, dubbed Ernie Bot, will be completed in March 2023.
Ernie is an acronym for “Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration.” According to Baidu, it is a sizeable AI-powered (artificial intelligence) language model introduced in 2019. The firm said that its ChatGPT-style chatbot has evolved through time to be capable of tasks like language processing, language production, and text-to-image generation.
As per a Reuters source, Baidu intends to provide their chatbot service in March. According to the source, the firm plans to make the service accessible as a standalone application. Moreover, they will progressively include chatbot-generated results in their search engine when users conduct searches.
ChatGPT not making waves in China, like everywhere else?
Significant venture capital investment and attention from tech companies, particularly in Silicon Valley, have been directed toward generative artificial intelligence. Many have predicted that search giants such as Google, could be toppled in a few years by new and advanced AI-powered searches.
ChatGPT is undoubtedly the pioneer in this area. However, their services are unavailable in China, like Google, Facebook, etc. Due to high government internet censorship, many internationally available services were pulled from the Chinese market. Some users, however, have found a way around the strict laws. This leaves a large market for Baidu and its new chatbot.
However, given China’s strict laws regarding the internet and communication, Baidu’s Ernie Bot might face severe challenges upon launch. The platform would require programming to adhere to the nation’s censorship laws.
OpenAI‘s ChatGPT has inspired almost all major tech companies to follow in its footsteps. Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Alphabet, said that the firm is launching a conversational AI service called Bard to gather user input before making it available to the general public in the upcoming weeks. Additionally, Google intends to upgrade its search engine with AI elements that create content for sophisticated searches.
In China, Beijing-based Baidu was an early adopter of other digital innovations. The business introduced “XiRang” in late 2021, calling it “China’s first metaverse platform” at a time when the term “metaverse” was becoming popular.