The Chinese search engine giant Baidu has unveiled ERNIE, a chatbot that is driven by artificial intelligence and is the newest competitor to OpenAI’s ground-breaking ChatGPT.
ERNIE, which is referred to as Weixin in Chinese, is the product of “decades of hard work and efforts” on the part of Baidu, according to Robin Li, the Chief Executive Officer of Baidu, who spoke on Thursday during a press conference that was streamed live online to demonstrate the capabilities of the new technology.
According to what Li had to say, the ERNIE bot demonstrated its capacity for mathematical logic reasoning over the course of two rounds of dialogue. “It not only knows if the question itself is accurate or not, but it also offered solutions and detailed procedures to figure out the answer.” “It not only knows whether the question itself is correct or not.”
During the event that took place in Beijing, Li demonstrated how ERNIE could generate a conference poster and video based on a prompt, provide suggestions on the best site for the event among many Chinese cities, and read content in a Sichuan dialect.
Li also demonstrated how the bot provided answers to inquiries on a well-known Chinese science fiction novel and provided a synopsis of the story.
According to Li, the capabilities, which will be included into Baidu’s Xiaodu smart device ecosystem, will initially only be accessible to a restricted number of users who have been provided with an ERNIE invitation code.
According to Li, the bot is more proficient in Mandarin than in English and has difficulty answering questions that involve logical fallacies, despite the fact that it is able to determine when something is in mistake.
In contrast to OpenAI’s live demonstrations of ChatGPT, Baidu presented ERNIE’s capabilities not in person but rather through a presentation consisting of a series of slides. The chatbot is also missing features that were included in the follow-up to Chat GPT, known as GPT-4. One of these features is the capability to create text in response to a picture.
The introduction of ERNIE was not well welcomed by investors, as seen by the decline of more than ten percent in Baidu’s Hong Kong-listed shares during the pre-recorded presentation.
“There is still a lot of doubt regarding ERNIE’s capacity, especially given the lack of a live demo,” Chim Lee, a Chinese tech expert for the Economist Intelligence Unit, said to Al Jazeera. This is in sharp contrast to OpenAI’s GPT-4’s developer livestream a few days earlier.
“Robin Li did not exhibit Ernie’s potential in a non-Chinese language context,” Lee continued. “This is not a Chinese language environment.” “He also confessed that Ernie’s capacity to grasp and process English is not as excellent as that of Chinese comprehension. He said that this was something that Ernie had to work on. This places it in a disadvantageous position in comparison to ChatGPT, which is able to provide replies in English, Mandarin, and a variety of other languages.
The announcement made by Baidu comes just one day after OpenAI, which is backed by Microsoft, unveiled GPT-4. The San Francisco-based company claims that GPT-4 is capable of “human-level performance” in certain academic fields, including the ability to pass the bar exam for prospective lawyers with a score that is in the top 10 percent of all applicants.
Li stated that his “expectations for Ernie bot are closer to ChatGPT or even GPT4,” and he complimented Baidu for deploying the bot before competitors such as Google and Facebook parent company Meta.
According to Li, more than 650 companies and institutions in China, such as China CITIC Bank, the National Museum of China, and the Global Times newspaper, have plans to employ ERNIE in the near future.
The Chinese government has committed to providing assistance to domestic AI software engineers and promoting the widespread adoption of the technology throughout China’s business sector.
Local IT heavyweights such as Alibaba, Huawei, and JD.com, among others, have revealed their intentions to develop and release their very own versions of the technology.
Because the technology relies on information that is scraped from many sources online, Beijing’s stringent internet regulations have sparked concerns about how AI-powered chatbots would perform in China given the information’s dependence on online sources.
But, because to the constraints placed on OpenAI’s bots in China, ERNIE has a better chance of becoming successful there, according to Lee.
According to what he claimed, “China technology businesses have a high potential in establishing working business models for emerging technologies.”