Baidu’s Ernie Bot inspired by ChatGPT to power company’s all operations

Baidu’s CEO Robin Li announced on Wednesday that the company’s ChatGPT-inspired Ernie Bot, which was made available to the public in March, will be integrated across all operations of the Chinese search giant.

During a conference call with analysts, Baidu’s CEO Robin Li revealed that the company’s first step will be to integrate Ernie Bot into its search service, with the aim of attracting new users and increasing market share in a profitable manner. Following this, the company plans to expand the bot’s availability to its intelligent driving unit and business partners. Baidu also expects a growing number of entrepreneurs and business owners to build their own models and applications on Baidu’s AI Cloud.

“Recently, with users raving about ChatGPT, large language models (LLMs) using generative AI have created a mega trend that will revolutionise many businesses. Baidu is well positioned to capitalise on the imminent inflection point” in artificial intelligence,” said Li.

After the successful launch of Microsoft-backed ChatGPT and Google’s AI chatbot Bard, Baidu and other Chinese tech companies have announced their upcoming release of a ChatGPT-style bot this month.

According to Baidu, Ernie Bot has been under development since 2019 and is based on advanced technology that may initially be embedded as a feature within the company’s products, rather than as a standalone chatbot.

“We have been working on LLM for a few years. We launched Ernie in March 2019, and have scaled it up with well over 100 billion parameters. The chatbot receives training via several billion user search requests and other applications daily,” added Li.

Moreover, during the conference call, Li emphasised that Baidu’s Ernie Bot has been specifically designed to cater to the Chinese language and market, making it more suitable than overseas models.

As per Li, it is not only about language, but also about understanding Chinese culture. “Ernie 3.0 is already a very localised AI foundation model for the China market, which means the generative large language model we are working on right now will be more suitable in China,” explained Li.

In the fourth quarter, Baidu’s revenue remained unchanged at 33.1 billion yuan ($4.80 billion), surpassing the average estimate of 32 billion yuan by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. The company’s non-GAAP net income, which typically excludes non-cash or irregular expenses, was 5.4 billion yuan, marking a 32 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

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