China tech giant Baidu releases its answer to ChatGPT

As anticipated, Ernie Bot (the identify stands for “Enhanced Illustration from kNowledge IntEgration;” its Chinese language identify is 文心一言, or Wenxin Yiyan) performs significantly properly on duties particular to Chinese language tradition, like explaining a historic truth or writing a conventional poem. (Li says as a Chinese language firm, Baidu “has to carry out higher than any pre-trained LLMs” when it comes to understanding Chinese language.) 

However the spotlight of the product launch was Ernie Bot’s multimodal output characteristic, which ChatGPT and GPT-4 don’t supply (OpenAI has bragged about GPT-4’s means to research a photograph of the contents of a fridge and provide you with recipe ideas, however the mannequin generates solely textual content). Li confirmed a recorded interplay with the bot the place it generated an illustration of a futuristic metropolis transportation system, used Chinese language dialect to learn out a textual content reply, and edited and subtitled a video primarily based on the identical textual content. Nevertheless, in later testing after the launch, a Chinese language publication failed to breed the video era. 

The Chinese language public has been hungry for a ChatGPT different; each OpenAI and the Chinese language authorities have barred people in China from utilizing the American chatbot.

However to this point, Ernie Bot has been made obtainable solely to an especially choose pool of Chinese language creators. Firms can apply for API entry. However Baidu has not stated whether or not the know-how will probably be obtainable for customers. It’s additionally unclear when the bot will probably be built-in into Baidu’s different merchandise, like its search engine or self-driving automobiles, as the corporate promised.

In contrast with the rollouts of ChatGPT and GPT-4, Ernie Bot’s launch felt rushed. The presentation didn’t characteristic any stay demo however as an alternative used 5 pre-recorded periods. Li additionally repeatedly stated that Ernie continues to be imperfect and can enhance as soon as it reaches extra customers. Baidu’s inventory worth slipped by 6.4% on Thursday, and social media is filled with disillusioned reactions.

Li appeared ready for such a response. “Folks have been asking me for some time: Why are you releasing [Ernie Bot] so quickly? Are you prepared for it?” he stated throughout his presentation. “From what I personally noticed when conducting inside exams on Ernie Bot, it’s not excellent. However why can we need to launch it at present? As a result of the market calls for it.” 

The race to be the primary

Whereas a couple of ChatGPT-style bots have already been launched by Chinese language firms or researchers, none of them has proven satisfying outcomes. MOSS, an English-language chatbot developed by Fudan College researchers in Shanghai, was met with such excessive demand that its server broke down inside a day of launch in late February. It has but to return. MiniMax, a Chinese language startup, launched a chatbot known as Inspo earlier this month, however it has been suspected of merely repackaging the GPT-3.5 mannequin developed by OpenAI.

Many individuals anticipated that Baidu can be the primary Chinese language firm to go face to face with ChatGPT. Again in 2019, Baidu launched a GPT-3 equal—Ernie 3.0. It additionally launched a decently highly effective text-to-image mannequin known as Ernie-ViLG final yr. 

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