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China's Baidu is trying to rival the US' ChatGPT-4 with Ernie 4.0

An attendee walks past a display at the Baidu World conference in Beijing
An attendee walks past a display at the Baidu World conference in Beijing Copyright AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File
Copyright AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File
By Euronews and AP
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Chinese tech giant Baidu says it is taking on AI rival ChatGPT-4 with its new artificial intelligence model. But can Ernie 4.0 succeed in a country with tougher regulations?


Chinese tech giant Baidu unveiled a new version of its artificial intelligence (AI) model on Tuesday that it claims will rival US company OpenAI's ChatGPT-4.  

Baidu's billionaire CEO Robin Li showcased Ernie 4.0 at the company's world conference in Beijing. He said the bot could understand complex questions and instructions and apply reasoning and logic to generate answers to questions by using algorithms. 

“It is not inferior in any aspect to GPT-4,” Li said, stating that the latest model was “significantly improved” compared to its original Ernie Bot model.

In a live demonstration, Li asked Ernie 4.0 to generate advertising materials including posters and a marketing video, which it did within minutes. He also asked Ernie 4.0 to come up with a martial arts novel complete with characters with various personalities.

Baidu is a frontrunner among a slew of Chinese companies racing to create AI models after OpenAI’s ChatGPT took the world by storm last year. Beijing sees artificial intelligence as a key industry to rival the United States and aims to become a global leader by 2030.

China has recently sought to regulate the generative AI industry, requiring companies to carry out security reviews and obtain approvals before publicly launching their products. Companies that provide such AI services must also comply with government requests for technology and data.

The US does not have such regulations.

Beijing-based Baidu started off as a search engine firm, and over the past decade, has invested heavily in artificial intelligence technology such as autonomous driving and more recently, generative AI to stay competitive.

Baidu introduced its Ernie Bot in March. In August, it made the model available to the public. Ernie 4.0 is not yet available to the general public but some people have been invited to try it.

Li said Baidu plans to incorporate AI technology into its search engine, maps and cloud drive services, and its business intelligence offerings for enterprise customers. He did not give a timetable for that.

The technology can transform how certain products work. Baidu’s search engine might generate a customised answer to a query instead of just providing a list of results and links.

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