Baidu Unveils Ernie 4.0, Asserting Parity with OpenAI’s GPT-4 Model

Tech giant Baidu has introduced the latest version of its generative artificial intelligence (AI) model, Ernie 4.0, claiming that its capabilities are on par with OpenAI’s groundbreaking GPT-4 model, the foundation behind ChatGPT.
Baidu advertisingCEO Robin Li unveiled Ernie 4.0 at an event in Beijing, emphasizing the model’s memory capabilities. During the event, Li showcased Ernie 4.0’s real-time creation of a martial arts novel and its ability to generate advertising posters and videos.

However, industry analysts expressed underwhelmment regarding the launch. Lu Yanxia, an analyst at industry consultancy IDC, noted that Ernie 4.0 lacked major highlights compared to its predecessor.

“We should see significant improvements once Ernie 4.0 is used hands-on, but concrete upgrades aren’t immediately clear,” Lu remarked.

Lu highlighted other significant announcements from the event, including Baidu’s integration of generative AI across all its products, such as Baidu Drive and Baidu Maps.

Li demonstrated how Baidu Maps now allows users to access functions using natural language queries powered by Ernie, streamlining the user experience.

Baidu, renowned for owning China’s largest internet search engine, is at the forefront of AI models in China, driven by the global excitement surrounding AI technology ignited by the introduction of ChatGPT last year.

In March, the company unveiled a chatbot powered by Ernie, named ErnieBot, although investors were shown only pre-recorded demonstrations, resulting in disappointment.

In August, Baidu, alongside several other firms, received government approval to release AI products to the public. Since its public debut, Ernie has garnered 45 million users, according to Baidu’s Chief Technology Officer, Wang Haifeng.

Notably, China currently boasts at least 130 large language models (LLMs), constituting 40% of the global total, second only to the United States’ 50%, as per data from brokerage CLSA.

Just last week, Beijing published proposed security requirements for firms offering services powered by AI technology. These guidelines include a blacklist of sources that cannot be used to train AI models, showcasing the government’s commitment to ensuring responsible AI development and usage.