The global AI landscape has been significantly influenced by the success of OpenAI's ChatGPT sparking an international race to develop similar AI applications.
In the midst of this ongoing AI race, Chinese tech giant Baidu has taken a bold leap to launch its ChatGPT-like chatbot, Ernie Bot, to the public, marking a substantial stride in the country's AI sector.
Previously introduced to a waitlist in March reaching up to 1.2 million users, Ernie Bot has now made a full-scale debut, becoming the first domestic AI application accessible to the general public exclusively within China's borders - since ChatGPT remains banned in the country.
However, its endeavour is accompanied by stringent regulations by the Chinese government, underscoring the country's resolve to harness AI's vast potential while maintaining a watchful eye on content and security.
These regulations mandate adherence to socialist values and the avoidance of actions or content that could jeopardize national security. This requires AI developers to conduct security assessments and disclose comprehensive algorithm information for apps that influence "public opinion."
Now available as an iOS app, the Ernie Bot app has ranked first in popularity on Apple’s app store in China, but access is restricted to users with a Chinese ID number, according to CNBC.
Alongside Ernie Bot's full-scale launch, the company is also preparing to introduce a suite of AI-native applications encompassing generative AI's core abilities: understanding, generation, reasoning, and memory.
Overall, Baidu's Ernie Bot's emergence into the AI arena signifies China's determination to seize a leading role in AI technology, but as Baidu charts its course in the AI domain, it must navigate China's rigorous regulatory landscape that might never see it compete on a global scale.
Meanwhile, other Chinese companies, including e-commerce giant Alibaba and Opera web browser parent Kunlun Tech are also working on the release of their own ChatGPT-like chatbot products.