Baidu launched a paid version of ERNIE Bot on Wednesday, offering users a ChatGPT-like service powered by its latest large AI model at a charge of RMB 59.90 ($8.20) per month. The move suggests that the search giant has intensified efforts to monetize its AI chatbot nearly eight months after it debuted. The subscription price is reduced to RMB 49.90 monthly for auto-renewal subscriptions, while the basic ERNIE Bot 3.5 version will continue to be available to the general public for free. Chief executive of Baidu, Robin Li, released the ERNIE 4.0 iteration last month, claiming its capabilities are on par with OpenAI’s GPT-4 model. Baidu’s professional version, based on ERNIE 4.0, provides “enhanced modeling capabilities and image generation capabilities,” while also supporting “a variety of practical plug-ins,” according to the company. [Caijing, in Chinese]