After GPT-4 had been released to much attention and Microsoft 365 declared its plans to be overhauled by AI, Baidu, the Chinese search engine powerhouse, unveiled its Ernie Bot.
Since the introduction of ChatGPT, Baidu has been viewed as the Chinese company most likely to replicate the OpenAI chatbot. Thus, the launch of Ernie was highly anticipated. On Thursday, Baidu CEO Robin Li presented a brief overview of Ernie; however, it is still unclear as to what capabilities Ernie has and how it functions.
At the present time, Ernie can only be accessed through invitation and people have to sign up for a waiting list. TechCrunch has not had the chance to test out Ernie yet, so it would be unjust to make any conclusions about its performance.
The public response was unsatisfactory. People from both within and outside of China noted that instead of a live demonstration, Baidu chose to deliver a prolonged speech with pre-recorded answers from Ernie. Consequently, the company’s shares dropped as much as 10% in the Hong Kong stock market after Li’s address.
Li showed the questions Ernie was asked and its responses in five different areas in the slides.
- Literary writing: The individual inquired Ernie for counsel on forming a continuation to the renowned sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem.
Business writing: The individual solicited Ernie to think of titles for a substantial-vocabulary model organization that helps medium and small organizations computerize.
Logic and reasoning: Ernie was requested to unravel the well-known “chickens and bunnies” math mystery.
Chinese translation: Ernie was asked to interpret. Ernie was asked to explain a Chinese proverb and then compose a poem based on the expression. Additionally, he was given a query (“What town is most suitable for setting up intelligent transport?”) and expected to carry out multiple tasks associated with the starting suggestion, like speaking the response in a Chinese language and making a graphic based on the words.
Baidu attempted to showcase the capabilities of Ernie and the responses were decent, yet investors were still not impressed by the meticulously planned reveal. One can question if Baidu stayed away from a real demonstration due to its lack of certainty, and if it had hurriedly launched the product due to OpenAI’s remarkable progress. Even Google, a leader in the AI arena, made an error during the presentation of their chatbot Bard.
Fangbo Tao, the head of the AI company Mindverse and a former AI researcher at Alibaba and Facebook, expressed similar feelings.
In response to the influence of ChatGPT, Chinese companies in the language model field have released their own products in record time. Baidu took a mere two months to put out its own version, which has proven to be the most comparable to the original ChatGPT of all the Chinese “ChatGPTs”.
He went on to suggest that in order to use Ernie Bot to its fullest potential in developing an application system, it must show an increased capability for understanding and obeying commands. However, he praised Baidu for taking the initial step, which he acknowledged as the most difficult.