Chinese tech giant Baidu to launch ChatGPT-style AI bot

Qilai Shen

HONG KONG — Chinese tech company Baidu said Tuesday that it was launching an artificial intelligence chatbot similar to ChatGPT, joining a global race to dominate the technology.

The chatbot, called “Wenxin Yiyan” in Chinese and “ERNIE Bot” in English, is being tested internally and is set to be publicly released in March, Baidu said in a statement. ERNIE stands for “Enhanced Representation Through Knowledge Integration.”

Like ChatGPT, the Baidu chatbot generates sophisticated responses to written prompts, allowing users to create articles, essays, jokes and even poetry.

Shares in the Hong Kong-listed company jumped on the announcement, ending Tuesday up more than 15% in their best day in almost a year. Other Chinese AI stocks also gained.

Baidu’s announcement follows a similar one on Monday by Google, which said it would roll out an artificial intelligence chatbot called “Bard” in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, the company is opening it up to “trusted testers,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post.

“We’ll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information,” he said. “We’re excited for this phase of testing to help us continue to learn and improve Bard’s quality and speed.”

ChatGPT, which is not available in China, has become an international sensation since it was launched in November by U.S. artificial intelligence company OpenAI.

The startup has received strong backing from Microsoft, which announced a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment last month to accelerate breakthroughs in AI and “commercialize the resulting advanced AI technologies.”

Microsoft is holding a news event Tuesday that is thought to be related to ChatGPT.

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