Ernie Bot, the AI chatbot from China’s largest internet company Baidu, has drawn over 100 million users since its public launch in August.
This announcement was made by Haifeng Wang, Baidu’s chief technology officer, at a deep learning summit in Beijing.
The Baidu search engine commands over 76 percent of China’s internet market share, where the number of internet users surpassed 705 million this year.
During the Baidu World event, company founder Robin Li introduced Ernie 4.0, touting it as a superior version of its predecessors, especially Ernie 3.5.
As previously reported By Decrypt, Li has said that the company’s new model “is our most powerful model to date, featuring comprehensive upgrades to its core abilities, understanding, generation, reasoning, and memory.”
Li compared it against OpenAI’s GPT-4 model and said Ernie 4.0 is the best-performing Chinese LLM, according to the SUPERGLUE benchmark.
The Ernie Bot is part of Baidu’s broader strategy to integrate advanced AI into its assorted internet services.
With the World Bank estimating China’s 2023 population to be 1.4 billion people, Ernie Bot’s 100 million users represent significant market penetration, reaching potentially 7% of the people in China.
However, it’s important to note the regional focus of Ernie Bot, which—as far as Decrypt could determine—requires a Chinese phone number for registration.
If so, this indicates a more localized approach compared to the globally accessible ChatGPT.
ChatGPT reached 100 million users two months after its launch, a fair bit faster than Baidu—which had made Ernie Bot available in closed testing for a few months before its August debut.
Baidu did not reply to a request for comment from Decrypt, which could not independently verify its claims.
Baidu’s focus on enhancing and expanding its AI capabilities with Ernie Bot echoes the tech industry’s broader push towards more sophisticated and integrated artificial intelligence solutions.
The company’s rapid development and deployment of Ernie Bot demonstrate the competitive nature of the AI and tech space, where innovation and user-base growth are key indicators of success.
As AI continues to be an area of intense development and competition, Baidu’s achievements with Ernie Bot mark a notable contribution to the field, especially considering that local Chinese dialects and even Mandarin (China’s official language) require extensive training as they have a syntactic structure that makes it hard to simply adapt a model used for Western languages.