On the 5th of September 2023, many AI chatbots were released publicly by China’s government to face the US restrictions on AI development in China.
For example, Baidu created Ernie, a chatbot model that was made publicly available at the end of August 2023. Ernie is similar to ChatGPT. The main goal of Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li is to challenge ChatGPT and many other American AI tools.
France24 reported that “China’s AI market is worth €20bn and that AI technology is having a large impact on personal and workplace life in the country.” Meanwhile, Baidu CEO Robin Li recently claimed that “more than 70 AI models with more than 1 billion parameters have been released in China.”
One million users on the first day Ernie was launched
Ernie is a free application available to download on Baidu’s website but also from app stores. On the 31st of August, over 1 million users downloaded the application on Apple’s app store. The shares of Baidu “rose by more than 3% in morning trade”.
Ernie Bot was first released for use on the 16th of March 2023. The application was only used by Baidu’s business partners “and people who had first joined a waitlist — whose numbers swelled to more than 1.2 million before Baidu stopped disclosing them”.
Ernie Bot functionalities
Ernie’s application is available to all countries. However, the user should have a Chinese number to log into the application and to create an account. Additionally, the application is only available in Chinese – there is no English version of it.
Ernie can create documents for users, but also give responses to questions, analyze data and create logos. It can also help analyzing a market or summarizing documents.
Ernie’s compliance with China’s data regulation
China reinforced its regulations on data protection, especially in the AI industry. AI technology companies are required to comply with these regulations, so their models can be publicly released.
More evolutions are coming soon
Baidu plans to launch “a suite of new AI-native apps that allow users to fully experience the four core abilities of generative AI: understanding, generation, reasoning, and memory.”
Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li noted that “the company will be able to collect massive, valuable, real-world human feedback to improve its foundation model, also called Ernie, and bring more innovation to the Ernie Bot.”