China enters AI arms race, flops disastrously

Daily Caller News Foundation

China released its main Chat GPT competitor, developed by search engine giant Baidu, Thursday in Beijing, but its debut of the bot was a failure and led to the company’s shares falling, according to CNBC.

During the unveiling, the bot named Ernie “summarized a science fiction novel and analyzed a Chinese idiom,” but in the middle of the presentation that Baidu promoted as live, CEO Robin Li, revealed the company prerecorded the presentation for time management purposes, according to The New York Times. Li also made clear that Ernie bot was not flawless and will get better when users provide feedback, according to CNBC.

Baidu’s shares then plummeted at least 6.4% and as much as 10% in Hong Kong, in contrast to a previous rally when the giant announced it had been developing a ChatGPT competitor since 2019, according to the NYT. Baidu said 30,000 corporate clients signed up on the waitlist to access Ernie bot in less than an hour following its announcement, but media and the public did not get access, according to CNBC.

Meanwhile, OpenAI announced ChatGPT-4 this week, as the updated version of the AI behind its highly popular and disruptive ChatGPT chatbot that the public has accessed for free since November. GPT-4 currently costs $20 a month, but its unveiling included research showing it can pass important academic exams with scores in the top 10% of humans.

While OpenAI acknowledged GPT-4 still reinforces social biases and its increased safety measures will lead to more flagging and blocking, Baidu’s Ernie bot is anticipated to have significantly more censorship.  China’s severe censorship measures may seriously harm data quality and the advancement of Chinese chatbots, Xu Chenggang, a senior research scholar at the Stanford Center on China’s Economy and Institutions told the NYT.

“If there are restrictions everywhere in the setup of your algorithms, of course its ability will be restricted,” he added, according to the NYT.

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