Baidu, the leading Chinese search engine, has plans to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot service in March, similar to OpenAI's ChatGPT.
The technology will launch as a stand-alone application and slowly integrate into the Baidu search engine, according to several reports.
Chatbots in China today focus on social interaction, whereas ChatGPT -- which relies on large amounts of data -- performs better at more professional and personal tasks, reported Reuters.
Baidu Chief Executive Officer Robin Li cited ChatGPT as an example of where the company can excel and take the lead in technology during an internal discussion in December, according to notes seen by The Wall Street Journal.
“We have such cool technology, but can we turn it into a product that everyone needs?” Li said, referring to AI-driven technologies including the chatbot. “This is actually the hardest step, but also the greatest and most influential.”
Baidu has spent billions of dollars researching AI. And at the same time, the company has been working on harnessing tons of data.
Datasets are the fuel for AI. Its Ernie system, a machine-learning model that has been training on data, is at the center of the project.
Baidu in 2019 developed Ernie, the deep-learning model, based on Google’s breakthrough. It is used to improve query results on Baidu’s search engine. The company has since developed dozens more Ernie models and extended its capabilities to include image and art generation, similar to those of OpenAI’s Dall-E.
Earlier this month in a blog post on its website, the company explained that during the past four years, AI has become a “founding pillar of technological development, showing more effective direction as pre-trained AI big models become a new technical cornerstone” and how the level of intelligence has significantly increased.”
Separately, Microsoft and Google are working to build their respective technology based on integrating AI and chat.
Microsoft invested in OpenAI in 2019 and 2021, recently announced another round of backing -- as much as $10 billion -- with plans to integrate ChatGPT into its products such as search engine Bing.
Google’s technology, Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), debuted in 2021, and Meta Platforms released a chatbot known as Blenderbot in 2020.
Neither company has discussed plans to integrate the technology into their platforms, but that does not mean it won’t happen.