Baidu is weighing whether to embed its ChatGPT-like service Ernie Bot into its main search platform, similar to Microsoft’s Bing, or launch it as an independent service, local media outlet 36Kr has reported, citing multiple Baidu employees.

Why it matters: Baidu’s reported indecision on Ernie Bot reflects the unpredictability surrounding the launch of artificial intelligence-powered chatbots, as the search giant looks to avoid some of the missteps seen with Bing and Google’s recent projects.

Details: Baidu, which has increasingly put AI capabilities at the heart of its strategy in recent years, announced in early February that its Ernie Bot tool would go live in March.

  • Led by Baidu’s chief technology officer Wang Haifeng, the Ernie Bot team includes Wu Tian, supervisor of the company’s deep learning platform PaddlePaddle, as well as Wu Hua, technical leader of Baidu’s natural-language processing department.
  • Ernie Bot is currently Baidu’s highest-priority project, according to 36Kr. The report cited Baidu employees as saying that all of the “scarce resources” being used to train deep learning models have now been diverted to its large-scale machine-learning Ernie system, which will power Baidu’s version of ChatGPT.
  • The company is reportedly also seeking to combine AI-generated content with its blog-style platform Baijiahao as well as with short video content.
  • Nearly 300 leading companies from sectors spanning internet, media, insurance, and auto have announced their inclusion in Baidu’s ChatGPT-style Ernie Bot ecosystem.

Context:  Baidu is part of a crowded field of Chinese companies to have announced their own AI chatbot projects in the wake of the huge popularity of ChatGPT.

  • The search giant has also announced that its first electric vehicle model will launch using its new conversational artificial intelligence technology, with the intention of providing a ChatGPT-like experience that enables natural conversation between owners and their vehicles.
  • AI-powered chatbot services rely on large and diverse data sources to train. Based on PaddlePaddle and the Pengcheng Cloud Brain II computing power system, Baidu launched the largest single model in the Chinese language at the end of 2021 with 260 billion parameters, a parameter figure that has exceeded GPT-3’s total by 50%, Baidu said.
  • Meanwhile, Baidu has built a knowledge database of over 5 billion entities and 550 billion facts in recent years as the company’s largest business – search – has generated a huge pool of resources.

READ MORE: Alibaba, Baidu, NetEase, iFlytek…Chinese companies rushing to prove they have tech similar to ChatGPT

Cheyenne Dong

Cheyenne Dong

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, blockchain, and Web3. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]