As anticipated, Ernie Bot (the identify stands for “Enhanced Illustration from kNowledge IntEgration;” its Chinese language identify is 文心一言, or Wenxin Yiyan) performs significantly effectively on duties particular to Chinese language tradition, like explaining a historic truth or writing a standard poem. (Li says as a Chinese language firm, Baidu “has to carry out higher than any pre-trained LLMs” when it comes to understanding Chinese language.)
However the spotlight of the product launch was Ernie Bot’s multimodal output characteristic, which ChatGPT and GPT-4 don’t supply (OpenAI has bragged about GPT-4’s skill to research a photograph of the contents of a fridge and provide you with recipe solutions, however the mannequin generates solely textual content). Li confirmed a recorded interplay with the bot the place it generated an illustration of a futuristic metropolis transportation system, used Chinese language dialect to learn out a textual content reply, and edited and subtitled a video primarily based on the identical textual content. Nevertheless, in later testing after the launch, a Chinese language publication failed to breed the video era.
The Chinese language public has been hungry for a ChatGPT various; each OpenAI and the Chinese language authorities have barred people in China from utilizing the American chatbot.
However to date, Ernie Bot has been made obtainable solely to an especially choose pool of Chinese language creators. Firms can apply for API entry. However Baidu has not mentioned whether or not the expertise might be obtainable for shoppers. It’s additionally unclear when the bot might be built-in into Baidu’s different merchandise, like its search engine or self-driving automobiles, as the corporate promised.
In contrast with the rollouts of ChatGPT and GPT-4, Ernie Bot’s launch felt rushed. The presentation didn’t characteristic any dwell demo however as a substitute used 5 pre-recorded classes. Li additionally repeatedly mentioned that Ernie continues to be imperfect and can enhance as soon as it reaches extra customers. Baidu’s inventory worth slipped by 6.4% on Thursday, and social media is filled with dissatisfied reactions.
Li appeared ready for such a response. “Folks have been asking me for some time: Why are you releasing [Ernie Bot] so quickly? Are you prepared for it?” he mentioned throughout his presentation. “From what I personally noticed when conducting inside exams on Ernie Bot, it’s not good. However why will we need to launch it in the present day? As a result of the market calls for it.”
The race to be the primary
Whereas a number of ChatGPT-style bots have already been launched by Chinese language firms or researchers, none of them has proven satisfying outcomes. MOSS, an English-language chatbot developed by Fudan College researchers in Shanghai, was met with such excessive demand that its server broke down inside a day of launch in late February. It has but to return. MiniMax, a Chinese language startup, launched a chatbot referred to as Inspo earlier this month, nevertheless it has been suspected of merely repackaging the GPT-3.5 mannequin developed by OpenAI.
Many individuals anticipated that Baidu can be the primary Chinese language firm to go face to face with ChatGPT. Again in 2019, Baidu launched a GPT-3 equal—Ernie 3.0. It additionally launched a decently highly effective text-to-image mannequin referred to as Ernie-ViLG final 12 months.