Baidu launches Ernie Bot

Yusin Hu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Baidu CEO Robin Li at the launch of Ernie Bot on March 16. Credit: Baidu

China's Baidu launched its latest generation of large language model-based, pre-trained AI generative product Ernie Bot (Wenxin Yiyan) on Mar 16. CEO Robin Li demonstrated on-stage some conversation with the AI.

At the launch event, Baidu showcased five major capabilities of Ernie Bot: literary writing; business copywriting; algebra; Chinese culture; multi-modal content generation. Only the first three capabilities will be available, Li said.

The conversations were recorded and replayed at the event. In the video, Baidu asked Ernie Bot to free-write a short poem, speak local dialect (text-to-voice), and generate video content (text-to-video). Questions posed include "Who is the author of The Three-Body Problem?", "Give a summary of The Three-Body Problem", "Give a name of a company that provides digitalization solutions," etc.

Li said Ernie Bot is able to understand natural language. Users may find errors but the model will improve quickly as user feedback increases.

The first generation of the large language model Ernie (Wenxin) was first introduced in 2019 and has been updated to the third generation. As OpenAI's ChatGPT draws broad attention, Baidu was prompted to launch Ernie Bot.

Li added that "Ernie Bot is not a tool that represents China's confrontation against the US but embodies the great endeavors of our engineers to push for technological advances."

Li stressed that Baidu has invested significantly in developing its in-house full-stack AI from chips, frame, and model to application. Its chip development subsidiary Kunlun Xin will also invest in developing GPUs in addition to producing CPUs.

Li said at opening of the launch event that "Baidu has seen expectations from the market that Baidu's product could compete with ChatGPT. They asked 'is Baidu ready?' Ernie Bot is not perfect, but Baidu is launching it now because the demand is growing. Our partners have been hurrying us for the launch."

According to Baidu's statement, only a group of users will receive invitations to test Ernie Bot. Specific dates regarding when it will be available for the public remains unknown.

Li has said previously that Ernie Bot will be much more suitable for Chinese users as the language model understands Chinese culture better than Western models do. Although Ernie Bot can generate English content, its proficiency is to be improved. Ernie will also be trained in other languages in the future.

650 business partners of Baidu's are likely to test Ernie Bot - mostly Chinese media –including Global Times, Shanghai Securities Journal, Wall Street CN, Sina News, Guangzhou Broadcasting Network, Jimu News, Singapore's Business Times, and many more.

Ernie Bot demo video on March 16 Credit: Baidu

Ernie Bot demo video on March 16 Credit: Baidu

Ernie Bot demo video on March 16 Credit: Baidu

Ernie Bot demo video on March 16 Credit: Baidu