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Baidu unveiled an early counterpart to ChatGPT, the Ernie chatbot

Chinese IT-giant Baidu has presented its own counterpart to ChatGPT - chatbot Ernie or Ernie Bot, reports Reuters. In this case, the bot is not yet allowed to the general public. It is expected that Baidu will complete internal testing Ernie Bot in March this year. At the moment, it is only available to a small group of testers. Companies can also apply to incorporate the bot into their products through Baidu's cloud platform.

The Ernie (Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration) language model underlying the bot was first introduced back in 2019. Baidu limited the chatbot presentation to short videos in which Ernie Bot performed math calculations, broadcast in different Chinese dialects, and generated videos and images with text prompts.

The presentation was led by Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li. As Reuters points out, the bot presented did not meet investors' expectations. They had expected Baidu to present a more interactive and complete Chinese version of ChatGPT. As a result, Baidu shares traded in Hong Kong fell 10% during the presentation and eventually closed 6.4% cheaper, reducing the market valuation of Baidu by $3 billion.

In February this year, Chinese regulators banned the country's IT giants from offering services using ChatGPT to the public. Tencent Holdings and Ant Group, a fintech subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding, were banned from providing access to ChatGPT services on their platforms, either directly or through third parties. Tech companies also now need to coordinate with regulators to release ChatGPT-type products.
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