Chinese tech giant Baidu has unveiled its latest generative artificial intelligence (AI) model, Ernie 4.0, positioning it as a contender on par with OpenAI’s GPT-4. Baidu’s CEO, Robin Li, introduced Ernie 4.0 at an event in Beijing, emphasizing its memory capabilities. During the presentation, Ernie 4.0 showcased its abilities by writing a martial arts novel in real-time and creating advertising content, including posters and videos.
However, analysts noted that the launch lacked major highlights compared to the previous version. Lu Yanxia, an analyst at industry consultancy IDC, expressed disappointment in the event’s lack of groundbreaking developments. It can be a good alternative to ChatGPT if all goes well.
One significant announcement from Baidu was the integration of generative AI into all its products, including Baidu Drive and Baidu Maps. Li demonstrated how Baidu Maps now offers users natural language queries powered by Ernie, simplifying access to functions that previously required users to sift through thousands of options.
Baidu, known for China’s largest internet search engine, has been actively participating in the AI model race, driven by the global excitement surrounding the technology, especially after the introduction of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
Baidu previously launched ErnieBot, a chatbot powered by Ernie, in March, though investors were left with pre-recorded demonstrations rather than live interactions. In August, Baidu received government approval to release AI products to the public. Since its public availability, Ernie has garnered 45 million users, according to Baidu’s Chief Technology Officer, Wang Haifeng.
China now boasts at least 130 large language models (LLMs), representing 40% of the global total, second only to the United States’ 50%, according to data from brokerage CLSA.
In a related development, Beijing recently proposed security requirements for companies offering services powered by AI technology, including a blacklist of sources that cannot be used to train AI models. These regulations reflect the growing importance of AI security and regulation in China.