Chinese tech giant Baidu has introduced its AI-powered chatbot, Ernie Bot, after years of development. CEO Robin Li acknowledged that the bot is not perfect but said it was released due to market demand. However, Baidu’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell by 10% during a demonstration of Ernie Bot’s capabilities, similar to the 9% drop in Google’s shares after the introduction of its ChatGPT rival, Bard.
Over 650 companies have announced their intention to join the Ernie ecosystem, with Chinese state media outlets and a Shaolin temple being among the first to sign up as partners. The success of ChatGPT has prompted Chinese tech companies and startups to develop competing products, with Baidu claiming its AI-driven deep-learning model, Ernie, puts it in a strong position to lead the race.
Baidu invested 21.4 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in AI and deep learning in 2022, accounting for 22% of its revenue. The company aims to use Ernie Bot to revolutionize its search engine, which is the most dominant in China, and improve efficiency in cloud services, smart cars, and household appliances, among other mainstream businesses.