Baidu, China's leading search engine and artificial intelligence (AI) company, announced on Monday that it has developed a new version of its Ernie large language model AI system that can generate more natural and engaging conversations than ChatGPT, a widely used conversational AI model. We first reported on the company developing a ChatGPT rival in January.
The new system, called Ernie 3.5, is based on Baidu's previous research on natural language understanding and generation. It uses a novel technique called “continual pre-training” to learn from large-scale conversational data and adapt to different domains and scenarios.
According to Baidu, Ernie 3.5 achieved better results than ChatGPT on several metrics, such as coherence, diversity and informativeness, in both Chinese and English. It also outperformed ChatGPT in human evaluations, where users rated the quality and fluency of the generated responses.
Baidu said that Ernie 3.5 can be applied to various conversational tasks, such as chatbots, voice assistants, social media and customer service. It can also generate content such as summaries, reviews and captions.
Baidu plans to release Ernie 3.5 as an open-source project and provide access to its pre-trained models and datasets. It also intends to integrate Ernie 3.5 into its own products and services, such as its smart speaker Xiaodu and its online education platform Zuoyebang.
AI Competition Involves Tech's Biggest Players
ChatGPT is a chatbot developed by OpenAI and based on the company's GPT AI model. It currently runs on GPT-3.5 despite the availability of GPT-4. Microsoft has leveraged the newer GPT-4 across its services, including in Bing Chat to create the first mainstream AI search tool.
Since then, Google has announced and released its Bard chatbot. Offering many of the same features as Bing Chat, Bard is seen as a direct rival to Microsoft's service. However, Microsoft is looking to AI far beyond search. By leveraging its multi-billion dollar partnership with OpenAI, the company has placed GPT-4 into Microsoft 365 Copilot, GitHub Copilot, and Azure OpenAI Service.
Meta is also throwing its weight behind AI and plans to integrate models across its services. Mark Zuckerberg recently outlined the company's ambitious vision in a recent interview. Apple is taking a more cautious approach. While the company is thought to also be investing heavily in AI, it has blocked chatbots from being used by employees.
Baidu is quietly positioning itself as one of the leaders in large language model research and development. However, the company's ties to China will likely prevent it from becoming a global player in the growing AI market.