Baidu disappoints with the presentation of the first Chinese ChatGPT

The presentation of Ernie Bot, Baidu’s answer to ChatGPT, was a real disappointment. The Chinese company showed for the first time its chatbot of artificial intelligence, but the use of pre-recorded demos and the vagueness in the concepts related to the development of the platform, were not convincing for the public and the press.

The cool reception to the Asian giant’s first big bid to go head-to-head with OpenAI has not been free for Baidu. The actions of the so-called “Chinese Google” They plummeted up to 10% on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange after the event, and closed with a fall of 6.4%. This translated into a valuation loss of more than $3 billion for the company.

Baidu’s Ernie Bot presentation did not give much room for analysis. Robin Li, the CEO of the company, took the stage to share some demos of the purported capabilities of his alternative to ChatGPT. However, there were no live interactions with the chatbotbut the only evidence that was released was through previously recorded videos.

Criticism at first glance at Chinese ChatGPT also focused on its rudimentary capabilities. At least those that were seen on stage, of course. Bloomberg collects that some of the queries that were made to the bot were simple enough to be answered by a common web browser. as long as Reuters mentions performing some mathematical calculations and generating images from text prompts. None of which happened live, as we already indicated.

Baidu also did not disclose a tentative date on when will Ernie Bot be available to the general public. The only thing that was mentioned was that a very limited number of users—invited with a code—will be able to start testing the platform from this Thursday. While companies interested in implementing it in their applications will have to sign up through its cloud platform.

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Ernie Bot, Baidu’s ChatGPT, had a dim debut

Baidu |  ChatGPT
Photo: Simone Brunozzi (Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Just because Ernie Bot’s debut was disappointing doesn’t mean Baidu’s ChatGPT alternative is doomed. In fact, the Chinese corporation is still seen as the most advanced in its country in the development of artificial intelligence solutions. However, the initial demo of the chatbot has shown that still has a long way to go.

Robin Li himself announced that his new tool it was still far from perfect. But he affirmed that if he presented it, it was because of the great rage for the existing generative artificial intelligence in the market. “I can’t say we’re completely ready. Comparing Ernie Bot to ChatGPT, or even GPT-4, is a very high bar. None of the big tech companies globally have done it. Baidu is the first,” said the co-founder and CEO of the search engine.

Despite the criticism, Baidu has taken the first step among Chinese companies to establish their own alternatives to ChatGPT. Alibaba is also working on a similar solution, although it is unknown when it will be released. The great challenge of these corporations will not only be to demonstrate that their developments are up to the standards of Western ones, but also comply with regulations.

Let’s not forget that China has banned the use of ChatGPT in applications developed by local technology companies. On the one hand, this will facilitate the growth and mass adoption of platforms like Ernie Bot; but it will also force reinforce the always controversial censorship requirements that the authorities apply on the web under the excuse of “maintaining social peace”.

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