Chinese tech behemoth, Baidu, claims the upgraded version of its AI chatbot is as sophisticated as OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4.
On October 17, the Beijing-based internet and artificial intelligence firm unveiled ERNIE 4.0 which its developers say is comparable, if not better, than GPT-4.
Speaking at the company’s flagship event, Baidu World 2023, CEO Robin Li put the large language model chatbot through its paces, demonstrating how ERNIE 4.0 could find solutions for complex math equations, write a script for a martial screenplay, or create an advertisement for an automobile, all within a matter of seconds.
As ERNIE was developed in China, it was trained in Mandarin, but its creators say it is able to operate in English, albeit at a slightly less impressive level.
Li said the chatbot’s performance illustrated how it had been upgraded since the launch of its predecessor, ERNIE 3.0 and ERNIE 3.5, adding its understanding of input queries, responsiveness, content generation and memory capabilities were all “significantly improved” and is in no way inferior to its rivals.
ERNIE 4.0 had a 3.6-times improvement in terms of its training algorithm, according to a Jefferies economics and market research report. For example, while generating content for a novel, the ERNIE Bot could remember previous input queries well enough to create compelling backstories and conflicts for the novel’s characters.
Despite optimism over the chatbot’s improved performance, some analysts remain wary about long-term issues, most notably the chip sanctions China has been subjected to over the last several years.
Large language models like the ERNIE Bot require incredibly powerful processing and memory components to perform actions such as generating content, simulating human-like conversations and remembering vast amounts of information.
Although Baidu’s success was a massive step for the Chinese tech industry, the efficacy of such large language models was dependent on the context in which it was used, said Xiaolin Chen, a KraneShares representative, speaking with CNBC.
Evaluating the latest version of ERNIE over a broad variety of practical applications would be important, especially when trying to compare it to other chatbots, Chen told the press.
Charlie Dai, Forrester vice president and research director of technology, echoed Chen’s remarks, saying he’d like to see more testing and evidence to prove Baidu’s claims, but was cautiously optimistic that the Baidu World 2023 presentation was ERNIE Bot’s “ChatGPT moment”.