Baidu makes ChatGPT’s Chinese rival, Ernie bot available to the public

China’s Baidu has made its ChatGPT rival chatbot Ernie fully available to the public. Launched in March this year with limited availability, Ernie bot is the first home-grown AI application to be made fully available to the public in China, and is not available outside the country.

In a statement on Thursday, Baidu said, “We are thrilled to share that ERNIE Bot is now fully open to the general public starting August 31,” 

“In addition to ERNIE Bot, Baidu is set to launch a suite of new AI-native apps that allow users to fully experience the four core abilities of generative AI: understanding, generation, reasoning, and memory.”, the statement added. 

Baidu announced on Thursday that the Ernie bot was available to the general public in China via its official website and an app that was only available in the Chinese app store, The Associated Press reported. The app has gained massive traction, topping Apple’s app store in China for free apps.

Baidu CEO Robin Li said that releasing Ernie to the public would help gather massive real-world human feedback that would help improve the company’s foundation models.

According to the new Chinese rules, which came into effect on 15 August, generative AI services must be approved by the government before becoming available to domestic users. The rules are an attempt to control content while allowing Chinese tech companies to flourish and compete with their American counterparts, Bloomberg reported.

The rules also state that if an AI software could affect “public opinion”, developers will have to conduct security assessments and submit filings on their algorithms to Chinese authorities.

In an earnings call earlier last month, Baidu CEO Li had described the AI regulations as “more pro-innovation than regulation”.

(With inputs from agencies)


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Updated: 01 Sep 2023, 10:25 AM IST

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