Baidu plans ChatGPT competitors

Beijing China’s largest search engine operator Baidu is apparently about to launch an intelligent chatbot service similar to ChatGPT. The offer is scheduled to start in March and will initially be embedded in the main search services, according to the Bloomberg news agency, citing an insider. A spokeswoman for Baidu declined to comment on the Handelsblatt.

The chat program ChatGPT from the US start-up Open AI had triggered a real hype in the past few weeks. More than a million users have registered since it was launched at the end of November. The program understands user questions in natural language and generates complex texts on command. It uses data from books, newspaper articles or social media.

However, the answers of the so-called generative artificial intelligence (AI) can also be incorrect. Nevertheless, tech companies have high hopes for the technology. Microsoft intends to invest around ten billion dollars in Open AI in the coming years.

Baidu CEO Robin Li internally in December cited ChatGPT as an example of a technology his company could become a leader in, Bloomberg quoted a transcript as saying. However, he also cautioned that commercializing the technology is a challenge.

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In China, too, researchers, companies and investors are driving the development of AI-generated content. According to the AI ​​index of the US elite university Stanford, which evaluates global progress in the areas of research, development and economy, China comes in second, just behind the USA. In some areas, the People’s Republic is even ahead.

Baidu announces three AI services

One of the leading Chinese providers is Baidu. The search engine operator, which was founded in 2000, describes itself as a leading provider of artificial intelligence. The Chinese have invested billions in research into AI in recent years and are increasingly relying on future technologies such as quantum computers and autonomous driving.

>> Read about this: What Microsoft plans with ChatGPT

At a conference in early January, Baidu announced three services: an image-generating service based on text input, a video content creation and editing service, and a cross-media service called Big Model Ernie 3.0 Zeus.

According to Bloomberg, Baidu’s “Ernie” system will also be the basis for the planned ChatGPT-like program. “Ernie” is the abbreviation of Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration, which can be translated as an improved (result) representation through the integration of knowledge.

Trained with Chinese and English language datasets

The first version of “Ernie” was published in early 2019 by researchers at China’s elite Tsinghua University. Unlike purely text-based models such as GPT, the latest version of the software further developed by Baidu uses data from text, infographics and other visual forms of representation and was trained with Chinese and English-language data sets.

>> Read also: A search engine giant is now building cars – With these models, Baidu is pushing onto the market in 2023

In a test last year, the current version of the program wrote an essay required for admission to universities. It performed better than 75 percent of the human candidates.

However, like traditional and social media, AI-generated content is also subject to censorship in China. A sample of the specialist publication “MIT Technology Review” – published by the US elite university Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – revealed that Baidu’s text-to-image offer “Ernie-ViLG” contained numerous politically sensitive keywords such as Tiananmen and Xi Jinping filter out.

China internet censors unveil AI content bill

In January, Internet regulator CAC introduced a new bill banning AI content that “endangers national security and social stability.” In addition, the respective providers should be liable for the dissemination of misinformation. In addition, most digital offers can already only be used if you register with Wechat or a cell phone number and are thus identifiable. In addition to censorship from outside, this often leads to self-censorship by users.

Open AIs ChatGPT can currently only be used indirectly in China. Registration with a Chinese mobile phone number is not possible. “My service is currently unavailable in China due to government restrictions on internet access and censorship,” ChatGPT replies when asked about availability in China.

Anyone who manages to gain access will quickly notice that the quality of the answers in Chinese lags behind that in English. This is because ChatGPT was mainly fed with English-language training data. It shows the challenge for AI models trained on specific speech datasets.

More: How Open AI’s chatbot works

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