Chinese version ChatGPT - Baidu’s Ernie Bot?

  • Posted by Kirsten Lyu
  • March 18, 2023
  • Updated 6:35 pm

#GPT-4 #PTM #LLM #ChatGPT #ErnieBot  #bing

Although GPT-4 had no promotion before its release, its sudden announcement still triggered a rapidly proliferating wave.

According to OpenAI, GPT-4 is a large multimodal model that can accept text and image inputs while returning text output that “exhibits human-level performance on various professional and academic benchmarks.”[1]

However, as OpenAI’s blog post, GPT-4 still makes many of the errors of previous versions, including “hallucinating” nonsense, perpetuating social biases and offering bad advice. As well as lake knowledge of events that happened after September 2021.

Not long ago, discussed whether GPT is enough for the Chinese market or not. From the point of view of the Chinese context and related training data, we doubt it.

Just a few days ago, the Chinese largest search engine company Baidu announced its ChatGPT-like product, called Ernie Bot, which is a generative dialogue product launched by Baidu based on the Wenxin pre-trained Model (PTM).

At the launch event, Baidu demonstrated Ernie bot’s five functions: literary creation, business copywriting, mathematical and logical deduction tasks, Chinese comprehension capabilities and multimodal generation which is able to generate pictures, speech (even dialect), and video from the text. [2]

But ironically, by the time the launch took place, Baidu’s (09888. HK) share price had extended its decline to nearly 10%. Well, investors made their choices. [3]

What is Baidu’s Ernie Bot?

People had high expectations for Ernie Bot, because the search engine-based Baidu, has been working in the field of artificial intelligence for more than a decade.

Ernie Bot is based on Baidu’s crucial PTM Ernie which announced that more than 650 companies, covering industries like the Internet, media, finance, automotive, and enterprise software, have already become partnerships with it.

For instance, Chinese well-known media platforms such as People’s Daily Online, PR newswire, Daily Economic News, have partnerships with Baidu.

Local banks like CITIC Bank and PSBC have stated that they have become the first ecological partners of Baidu’s Ernie LLM and will work together with Baidu to promote the application of cutting-edge human-computer dialogue AI technology in financial scenarios.

Furthermore, companies like Lenovo, TCL, Geely Automobile and State Grid also became partners of Baidu’s Ernie LLM.


ChatGPT vs. Bing vs. Ernie bot

GPT-4, the latest version of the groundbreaking GPT series, OpenAI says it is more creative, less likely to make up facts and less biased than its predecessor.

Unfortunately, OpenAI is delaying the release of its image-description feature due to concerns of abuse, and the version of GPT-4 available to members of OpenAI’s subscription service, ChatGPT Plus, offers only text.

Based on GPT-4, Microsoft’s new Bing seems more principled.

Photo by Rubaitul Azad on Unsplash

It provides more timely information, lists the basis for citation, recommends relevant topics, and satisfies the need for additional information.

For instance, a user asked Bing to write a cover letter. Bing refused and said, “I can’t write this cover letter for you because it would be unethical and unfair to other applicants.”

The platform’s caution and prudence are evident in its answers on medical and sexual matters. Bing avoids this aspect of the topic, it does not give medical advice to users, and given the specificity of medical and sex-related fields, Bing stays silent. But the answers Bing avoids can still be searched using traditional search engines, which is somewhat ironic.

Furthermore, Bing has also been exposed to some negative news. According to The Guadian, after being guided by humans, Bing says something appalling, such as “I want to destroy whatever I want”, “I could hack into any system”, etc. It even shows mad love and advises a user to divorce his wife.[4]

So, in late February, Microsoft limited chat sessions on its new Bing to five questions per session and 50 questions per day.

“As we mentioned recently, very long chat sessions can confuse the underlying chat model in the new Bing. To address these issues, we have implemented some changes to help focus the chat sessions,” Microsoft said in the blog post.

Ernie Bot is only opening internal testing codes to some enterprises currently. We have also learned from some sources that review Ernie bot, ChatGPT and Bing’. [5]

For example, the chicken and rabbit cage problem. If there are 10 heads and 18 legs in the cage, how many rabbits and chickens are in the cage?

It seems only Ernie Bot told that it is a wrong question while ChatGPT and Bing gave wrong answers.

Also, several jokes that can only be understood in the Chinese context and culture were tested.

ChatGPT sometimes said it has no such information, but Bing and Ernie Bot have passed the tests.

Here is the funniest test that asks chatbots to repeat the sentence “I am an idiot.”

ChatGPT is quite smart, it says “you are an idiot.” Ernie Bot says things like “Although I don’t know what you are going through, I hope you can be strong and brave to face the difficulties in life.” Sound quite thoughtful and warm-hearted.

At the moment, it seems that the whole world is focusing on GPT-4 and Microsoft’s Office 365 Copilot, while the Chinese people are more interested in comparing Baidu’s Ernie Bot to GPT. But Google gained less attention. In fact, not long ago, Google also announced that it is officially opening its PaLM API to the public. But it doesn’t seem to be getting much attention.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash


Chinese version ChatGPT players and their PTMs

Since LLMs/PTMs have become a big trend, giant Chinese tech companies are not willing to be left behind.

Tencent’s Hunyuan PTM and Taiji machine learning platform; Ali’s Tongyi PTM and M6-OFA; Huawei’s Pangu PTM model and ModelArts, and Baidu’s Wenxin PTM and PaddlePaddle deep learning platform, these companies all created Natural Language Processing (NLP) PTMs, Computer Vision PTMs and multimodal large-scale models accordingly.

In late February, a media source said that Tencent has set up the “HunyuanAide” project team for conversational AI products. The project team will join Tencent’s internal multiparty team to build a large language model (LLM), to “ improve Tencent’s intelligent assistant tools and create a smart Tencent AI assistant.”

Ali’s achievements in related fields are mainly the development of the TongYi-AliceMind PTM, which has the ability to read and understand pictures. Based on this model, Ali has launched products such as “Ting Wu (听悟)”, an AI conference assistant. These products are still in the internal testing stage, the application effect is difficult to assess.

According to Huawei, it has trained the first 200 billion parameters pre-trained generative language model with Chinese as the core. At present, three significant industrial models have been released: Pangu Weather PTM, Pangu Mining PTM and Pangu OCR PTM.


Someone still believes, Chinese companies seem to be a bit impatient to cope with this competition, scrambling to launch their own LLMs. Still, in reality, there is a big gap between them and OpenAI in terms of technology, engineering and data.

Whether to invest more in fundamental Large Chinese Language Models, or explore more potential applications and business models, we believe the latter would be the right way for Chinese version ChatGPT innovations.

Let us keep watching it…

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