BEIJING: Baidu on Thursday unveiled a much-anticipated artificial intelligence-powered chatbot known as Ernie Bot, which its chief executive said was the culmination of years of hard work by the company on artificial intelligence.
The bot was not perfect, but they released it now because of market demand, Robin Li said at a media conference in Beijing.
The company’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell 10% after he introduced the bot to answer questions, write a poem and produce video and image prompts.
So far, 650 companies have announced they will join the Ernie ecosystem, he added. Chinese state media and the Shaolin Temple were among the first to sign on as Ernie Bot’s partners.
The popularity of Microsoft-backed ChatGPT has sparked a frenzy among Chinese tech giants and startups to develop a competitor.
Baidu jumped to the top of the competition after saying early last month that it was close to completing a chatbot using its AI-based deep learning model Ernie – short for “Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration”.
The company has touted several years of heavy R&D investment in AI and deep learning as one of the reasons it is primed to lead the race to develop China’s answer to ChatGPT. Baidu’s research and development expenses in 2022 were 21.4 billion yuan ($3.1 billion), accounting for 22% of revenue.
Baidu plans to use Ernie Bot to revolutionize its search engine, which is by far the most dominant in China, and use it to increase efficiency in cloud services, smart cars and home appliances, among other mainstream businesses.
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