China’s Baidu and other tech companies release ChatGPT-like AI chatbots

September 4, 2023

By Sharan Kaur Phillora

In a swift response to China’s new AI legislation, four prominent tech companies have introduced their own AI-powered chatbots to the public. On August 30, Baidu, Baichuan Intelligent Technology, SenseTime, and Zhipu AI released their chatbot applications after obtaining the green light from Chinese authorities.

Here’s what we know:

This move comes shortly after the implementation of China’s official AI regulations on August 15, mandating government clearance prior to launching AI products for the mass market. To secure approval, companies are required to submit comprehensive security assessments and evidence of compliance with established standards. 

A comprehensive list of 24 guidelines accompanies these regulations, encompassing mandatory labeling for artificially generated content and holding service providers accountable for content disseminated through their platforms.

Local reports reveal that an additional 11 firms have already gained government endorsement for their AI products. Among these are industry giants such as ByteDance, the proprietors of TikTok, and Tencent Holdings.

Baidu, a leading search engine and AI company, likened its latest creation, Ernie Bot, to the popular ChatGPT from Microsoft-backed OpenAI. CEO Robin Li expressed his enthusiasm, explaining that by making Ernie Bot accessible to millions of internet users, Baidu aims to collect substantial real-world human feedback.

Notably, OpenAI’s ChatGPT remains inaccessible in China due to geo-blocking imposed by the government. Authorities reportedly compelled local social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo to restrict access to the platform.

Baidu’s Ernie Bot has taken the Chinese market by storm, swiftly claiming the top spot on the Apple Store’s free app rankings within 12 hours of its launch. Prior to the recent regulations, companies were limited to conducting small-scale public tests of their AI products. The new rules have enabled firms to conduct more extensive testing, incorporating a broader array of features.

Earlier this month, e-commerce titan Alibaba also unveiled its strides in AI development. While not chatbots like Ernie Bot or ChatGPT, Alibaba introduced two open-sourced AI models named Qwen-7B and Qwen-7B-Chat. Each model boasts 7 billion parameters and is considered a scaled-down version of the previously launched Tongyi Qiawen.

As China embraces AI advancements, it becomes clear that the nation is determined to compete with developments emerging from the United States. With these swift launches, China’s tech sector demonstrates its agility in adapting to new regulations and maintaining momentum in the global AI race.

About the author

Sharan Kaur Phillora’s thirst for knowledge has led her to study many different subjects, including NFTs and Blockchain technology – two emerging technologies that will change how we interact with each other in the future. When she isn’t exploring a new idea or concept, she enjoys reading literary masterpieces.

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