Since the 6th of November, for 300,000 RMB (41,190 USD), you can get your own personal digital person powered by Baidu’s ERNIE Bot language model, which also comes with a lifetime guarantee. Better still, it’s readily available on digital human Du Xiaoxiao’s (度晓晓) Taobao shop “Xiaoxiao General Store” (晓晓万事屋).
The General Store is also stocked with single-purpose ERNIE-driven chatbots, such as one that flatters you, one that comforts you, or even one that purports to “reset your life”. These all come with an equally astonishing price of 0.01 RMB (0.0014 USD) each. A more advanced “customised personal digital human” service was sold for 660,000 RMB (90,600 USD) on November 5th by Du and a human auctioneer during a livestream auction on Taobao.
These sci-fi-esque sales of virtual beings mark a new step in Taobao’s drive to integrate AI into the platform. Taobao has already introduced the AI shopping assistant Taobao Wenwen and AI tools for Tmall and Taobao sellers that can provide AIGC images or customer service.
Du Xiaoxiao, Baidu’s digital human introduced in 2020 as an interactive virtual idol, has been equipped with ERNIE Bot’s powers and has become the face of Baidu’s ambition in commercial AI uses. Recently, Baidu unveiled a “mini metaverse” hosted by Du, showcasing the marketing capability of smaller virtual spaces.