Baidu stock shares drop following ERNIE chatbot release

On March 16, China’s leading search engine Baidu saw its stock shares drop shortly after the presentation of its AI-powered chatbot disappointed investors.

Baidu’s stock fell as much as 10% after the web search company showed only a pre-recorded video of its AI chatbot ERNIE in its first public release. Rather than a live conversation, Baidu’s founder presented a scripted video of limited interactions with the chatbot.

“We feel that it is not perfect yet,” stated Baidu’s founder Robin Li. “Either way, we need to launch it today because we have huge demand in the market. With the users’ feedback, it will iterate very quickly.”

The drop echoes that of Google-parent Alphabet which suffered when there were questions over whether its Bard chatbot gave a wrong answer at its presentation event in February and underwhelmed analysts.

A few days preceding the ERNIE demo, Baidu also launched its WiseAI app for the overseas market, which provides round-the-clock companionship services for users seeking a safe space to chat or vent their feelings. According to Pandaily, unlike the generic chatbots that rely on pre-programmed responses, WiseAI uses advanced algorithms, cutting-edge artificial intelligence, and natural language processing technology that helps it understand and respond to natural language commands with answers that feel intuitive and human in real-time.

At present, nearly every Chinese tech giant is racing to roll out their own version of ChatGPT, including Tencent, Alibaba, and ByteDance. At the same time, US groups such as OpenAI and Google continue making strides in pushing forward the development of their own AI programmes. In fact, on March 14 OpenAI released its latest model GPT-4 which claims to have the ability to beat some humans on tough professional exams such as the US bar exam. Meanwhile, Microsoft is incorporating GPT-4 into Bing and US corporations are beginning to test out the technology in their workplaces and products.


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