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China's Baidu Introduces Ernie 4.0 to Compete with GPT-4

Baidu plans to integrate generative AI across all its products as Ernie 4.0’s launch receives mixed reviews.

Baidu has launches Ernie 4.0 to compete with GPT-4
Creator: MF3d | Credit: Getty Images

BEIJING - Chinese technology leader, Baidu, has launched its latest generative AI model, Ernie 4.0, positioning it to rival OpenAI's renowned GPT-4. Ernie 4.0, introduced by Baidu's CEO Robin Li, boasts significant improvements in its capabilities and is creating a buzz in the world of AI technology.


At a grand event in Beijing, Baidu's CEO Robin Li emphasized Ernie 4.0's remarkable memory capabilities, captivating the audience with its real-time writing of a martial arts novel. The AI model also demonstrated its prowess in generating advertising posters and videos. However, while Baidu celebrated its advancements, industry analysts appeared less enthused.


Ernie 4.0


Ernie 4.0's launch drew mixed reactions from industry experts. Analyst Lu Yanxia of IDC expressed some reservations, noting that the unveiling lacked significant highlights compared to its predecessor. Baidu's Hong Kong shares experienced a 1.32% drop in morning trading, though the broader Hang Seng Index enjoyed a 0.7% gain.


"Concrete improvements may become apparent with hands-on use of Ernie 4.0,"

Lu Yanxia suggested. For now, the specific upgrades offered by the new AI model remain somewhat unclear.


Baidu's Integration of Generative AI


While the focus was primarily on Ernie 4.0, Baidu also announced its plans to integrate generative AI across all its products, including Baidu Drive and Baidu Maps. Notable enhancements were showcased, such as Baidu Maps now supporting natural language queries powered by Ernie, simplifying user interactions compared to the previous complex search processes.


Baidu, recognized as the operator of China's largest internet search engine, stands at the forefront of AI models within China. This leadership position was galvanized by the global AI technology craze sparked by OpenAI's ChatGPT. In March, Baidu introduced the Ernie-powered chatbot, ErnieBot, although investor expectations were not fully met due to the presentation relying on pre-recorded demonstrations.


Notably, Baidu gained government approval in August to release AI products to the public, leading to the substantial growth of Ernie's user base, reaching 45 million users according to Baidu's Chief Technology Officer, Wang Haifeng.


China's AI Landscape


China currently boasts at least 130 large language models (LLMs), representing 40% of the global total, with the United States leading at 50%, as reported by brokerage CLSA. These developments underscore China's growing prominence in the global AI arena.


In related news, the Chinese government recently published proposed security requirements for companies offering services based on AI technology, including guidelines on sources that can be used for training AI models, further shaping the nation's AI regulatory landscape.


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