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Baidu Scraps Public Launch of ChatGPT-Rival Ernie Bot

The format was changed to satisfy the ‘strong demand’ from 120,000 companies that had applied to test Ernie Bot, the search giant said

Baidu's co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Robin Li showcases artificial intelligence powered chatbot known as Ernie Bot by Baidu, during a news conference at the company's headquarters in Beijing, China
Baidu's co-founder and CEO Robin Li showcases the artificial intelligence powered chatbot known as Ernie Bot, in a news conference at the company's head office in Beijing, China. Photo: Reuters.


Chinese search engine giant Baidu on Monday cancelled a planned public launch of its ChatGPT-like product Ernie Bot.

The launch was scheduled to be livestreamed on Monday afternoon. But it was switched to a closed-door meeting with the first batch of companies that are testing the product, Baidu said in a statement on Monday morning.

The format was changed to satisfy the “strong demand” from 120,000 companies that had applied to test Ernie Bot, the company said. This would be the first of many closed-door meetings, the company said.


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Baidu previously advertised Ernie Bot as being open to media and the public. The tech giant’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell as much as 4.5% on Monday morning on initial reports of the cancellation.

Ernie Bot, so far China’s closest answer to US-developed ChatGPT, was launched on March 16 by Baidu CEO Robin Li.

Li gave a livestreamed presentation that walked journalists through a series of pre-recorded demos displaying the Chinese chatbot’s different capabilities.

The “scripted” and private launch of the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot disappointed investors, who compared it unfavourably with the free-to-use launch of US research lab OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November.

Baidu share price dropped 10% while the presentation was still being livestreamed, but rebounded the following day. That was due in part to strong demand from the Chinese corporate sector for generative AI — the technology that powers products like Ernie Bot and ChatGPT.

Meanwhile, Chinese tech companies and investors are keeping an eye on how Beijing will regulate ChatGPT-like technology.

China’s regulators have already directed the country’s tech firms to not offer ChatGPT services as Beijing claims the chatbot is spreading American government “misinformation”.

However, top Beijing officials have said China sees the potential of ChatGPT-like technology and will push to integrate AI into Chinese society and economy.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena


Also read:

Baidu Says Ernie Bot Will ‘Revolutionise’ its Search Engine

China’s Tencent Assembles Team To Create ChatGPT Rival

Tim Cook Lauds China ‘Innovation’ at Key Business Summit

China Tech Fighting Over AI Talent in ChatGPT Chase – SCMP

Alibaba, Tencent Race to Build ChatGPT Rivals – Nikkei



Vishakha Saxena

Vishakha Saxena is the Multimedia and Social Media Editor at Asia Financial. She has worked as a digital journalist since 2013, and is an experienced writer and multimedia producer. As a trader and investor, she is keenly interested in new economy, emerging markets and the intersections of finance and society. You can write to her at [email protected]


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