Baidu, the Chinese search engine, recently showcased new capabilities of its AI-powered chatbot, Ernie, during a closed-door meeting with industry-focused companies. Ernie is a ChatGPT-like product capable of generating images, composing poetry, producing audio, and much more. The videos shown during the meeting highlighted the bot’s new abilities, such as producing travel itineraries, summarizing financial statements, and even creating virtual human-like live streamers to advertise products.
The videos were originally meant to be part of a product launch open to the public and the media. However, the format was changed to a closed-door meeting due to “strong demand” from over 120,000 companies that had applied to test the Ernie bot. Baidu’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell up to 4.5 percent on Monday morning following the announcement of the format change.
The Ernie bot is powered by generative artificial intelligence and was launched by Baidu CEO Robin Li on March 16. While Ernie is currently undergoing testing, Baidu plans to make the industry-focused version available to more companies starting on March 31. The regular version of the app is open to testing by invite only and has a good command of the Chinese language. However, tests conducted by Reuters showed that it can produce factual errors and avoids answering political questions.
Ernie bot is currently the closest answer China has to US-developed ChatGPT, and Baidu plans to continue improving the product’s abilities. Despite the initial market reaction to the format change, Baidu’s share price rebounded due in part to strong demand from the Chinese corporate sector.
Summary : AI-powered chatbot Ernie appears to be a significant development in the Chinese tech industry, with many companies expressing interest in testing its capabilities. As the industry-focused version of Ernie becomes available to more companies, it will be interesting to see how it impacts the Chinese market and if it can rival US-developed chatbots like ChatGPT.