Baidu, a Chinese search company, has been developing ERNIE (Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration) for the past ten years. The chatbot was first released in 2019, and now has an updated version.
ERNIE Bot's latest version, according to Baidu CEO Robin Li, has improved capabilities comparable to GPT-4, the latest iteration of the huge OpenAI language model released just a few days ago.
The chatbot is based on 550 billion facts, but they are mostly focused on China. That is, it will be able to easily list popular Chinese idioms for your request, but it will not be able to answer most inquiries on certain topics outside the region.
ERNIE Bot, unlike its competitors, can provide audio responses in various Chinese dialects as well as produce images and videos based on Chinese text.
During a demonstration, the chatbot summarized the contents of a Chinese science fiction novel and presented suggestions for continuing the work. He was also able to name the actors in the film adaptation, compare their heights, and determine who was taller. In another example, ERNIE was able to suggest name suggestions for a technology company that offers services to small and medium enterprises and create a newsletter with a given number of words.
Li claimed that 650 businesses have already signed up to use ERNIE Bot's technology, although it isn't ready for a public appearance. Baidu unveiled the bot early due to market demand driven by ChatGPT's increasing popularity.
Nikkei Asia reported earlier that Chinese regulators had ordered Tencent and Ant Group (a subsidiary of Alibaba's e-commerce subsidiary) to restrict access to ChatGPT, as well as report on their own AI chat bots' upcoming launches and work. This is an expected decision considering the Chinese government's strict anti-censorship policy.