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OpenAI’s ChatGPT has profoundly impacted the worldwide AI landscape, prompting a global competition to create comparable AI technologies. Amidst this ongoing race, Chinese technology leader Baidu has made a daring move by introducing its own chatbot, Ernie Bot. This marks a significant advancement in China’s AI industry.
After initially rolling out to a waitlist in March, which attracted over 1.2 million users, Ernie Bot has now been officially launched on a larger scale. This marks a significant milestone as Ernie Bot becomes the first domestically developed AI application available to the general public exclusively within China’s borders. Notably, this move contrasts ChatGPT, which is still prohibited in the country.
Nevertheless, Baidu’s initiative is accompanied by rigorous regulations imposed by the Chinese government. These regulations highlight the nation’s determination to harness the immense capabilities of AI while closely monitoring both content and security aspects.
These guidelines necessitate a commitment to socialist principles and the avoidance of any activities or content that might threaten national security. As a result, AI developers must undertake thorough security evaluations and provide extensive algorithmic details for applications that impact “public opinion.”
Presently accessible as an iOS application, the Ernie Bot app has secured the top spot in popularity on China’s Apple app store. However, it’s worth noting that access to the app is limited to individuals possessing a Chinese ID number, as reported by CNBC.
Concurrently with the full-scale release of Ernie Bot, the company is gearing up to unveil a collection of AI-native applications that cover the fundamental capabilities of generative AI: comprehension, generation, reasoning, and memory.
Introducing Baidu’s Ernie Bot to the AI landscape underscores China’s commitment to establishing a prominent position in AI technology. However, as Baidu forges ahead in the AI realm, it faces the challenge of maneuvering within China’s stringent regulatory framework, which could potentially limit its global competitiveness.
Simultaneously, additional Chinese firms like Alibaba, a major e-commerce player, and Kunlun Tech, the parent company of the Opera web browser, are also developing their chatbot products akin to ChatGPT.