Chinese Tech Giant Baidu to Launch ChatGPT-Style Chatbot
Chinese tech giant Baidu will introduce a generative AI chatbot in the mold of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in March, as first reported by Reuters. The ChatGPT-esque conversational AI will debut as an independent app before becoming a feature for Baidu’s widely used search engine.
Baidu plans to apply its conversational generative AI for search, as well as answering questions and producing text on demand. The new service builds on many of Baidu’s other AI research and products. Last year, Baidu demonstrated a virtual human named Xijiajia capable of painting a picture of a cat upon request. Xijiajia is Baidu’s digital human ambassador, one of several such virtual beings produced by Baidu, including the “interactive virtual idol” DuXiaoxiao that consumers can talk to on the Baidu app on their phones. Baidu has also been working on AI products related to enterprise cloud services and autonomous vehicles.
Unlike ChatGPT, Baidu is looking to design its AI to engage with up-to-date data. ChatGPT currently has a cutoff of about a year ago. A better comparison might be Perplexity.ai and its conversational search engine, which has an interface and capabilities similar to ChatGPT. The same goes for You.com’s YouChat chatbot, which performs searches, answers questions, and suggests writing and editing prose ideas. There’s also Jasper Chat, a chatbot format for Jasper’s own generative AI engine built around the same concept.
ChatGPT is unlikely to be a direct competitor any time soon as it has been banned from many Chinese platforms. That’s before considering that it will have to comply with China’s new rules around synthetic media, including generative text AI engines like ChatGPT.
By seeming coincidence, Baidu’s AI division Xiaodu raised an unannounced amount in a Series B round from China’s Mixed-Ownership Reform Fund, which supports change to state-owned enterprises. Xiaodu is the brand behind the DuerOS voice assistant and smart home ecosystem. The new round bumped Xiaodu’s valuation to $5.2 billion, a year and a half after a Series B round that elevated its valuation to $5.1 billion. Baidu’s overall share price rose by nearly 6% when the news first broke about the ChatGPT plans.
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