Baidu to embed ChatGPT-like bot in its search engine · TechNode

Chinese search engine giant Baidu is working on a ChatGPT-like bot service to embed in its search engine. Baidu’s CEO Robin Li believes that artificial intelligence tech has reached a tipping point and will produce “a generational revolution in the search experience,” China Star Market reported Monday, citing unnamed sources.

Why it matters: With its own deep-learning platform (PaddlePaddle) and large-scale pre-trained model (Wenxin or Ernie in English), Baidu is one of the few Chinese tech companies investing heavily in generative AI as the technology becomes more mainstream.

  • Led by Baidu’s mobile eco-business group as well as the technology platform group, the development of an AI-powered chatbot tool project started last December, but the gap between its current performance and ChatGPT is still obvious, a staff member from Baidu told local media outlet Caijing.

Details: ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot service debuted by OpenAI last November, is built on OpenAI’s large-language model GPT-3, and can output human-like responses in seconds. The aim is for Baidu’s version, which is using its large-scale model Ernie as a foundation, to do the same. Baidu’s upcoming chatbot is being trained with both Chinese and English sources, according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • Robin Li is confident that Baidu will be able to embed ChatGPT-like technology into its search engine, admitting that integration is more complicated than the chatbot technology itself, China Star Market wrote, citing a speech by Li given at an internal talk.
  • The implementation of a ChatGPT-style service embedded in search services still depends on Baidu’s subsequent research and development investments, a source close to the firm told the outlet.
  • For years, Baidu’s research expenses as a percentage of total revenue have remained at around 20%. The company also saw its new AI businesses account for an increasing share of its revenue in the last three years.
  • Baidu declined to comment on the chatbot service when reached by TechNode on Tuesday.

Context: Since launching in late 2022, ChatGPT quickly sparked wide discussion, attracting 1 million users in just five days, and pushing many tech companies to prepare for the revolutionary potential of artificial intelligence technology.

  • On Jan. 23, Microsoft announced it would offer a multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment in OpenAI, and plans to integrate ChatGPT into its own search engine, Bing.

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, blockchain, and Web3. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]technode.com.
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