US-based Alphabet and China-based Baidu both publicly announced ChatGPT competitors on Monday, as generative AI threatens to bomb the world of Internet search.
In a blog post released Monday, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai revealed more details about his own generative AI program called “Bard.” Pichai said the “experimental conversational AI service” would provide more in-depth answers to questions where there is no right answer.
Pichai said that Bard will be released to “trusted testers” before launching to the general public in a few weeks’ time.
In an internal memo sent after the blog post, Pichai said Google would “enlist every Googler to help shape Bard and contribute through a special company-wide dogfood,” CNBC reports. ., (The term “dogfood” is a term used in tech companies to refer to employees using their company’s own products as if they were end users.)
Pichai continued that the company would solicit feedback from its employees “in the spirit of an internal hackathon”.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Google reportedly issued a “code red” following ChatGPT’s release because the company viewed the program as a serious threat to its core product, Internet search. The company has released more AI research since the launch of ChatGPT, including MusicLM, a program that can generate music using hummed or whistled tunes or text prompts.
Microsoft, whose Bing search engine competes with Google, is investing $10 billion in OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, and is reportedly working to integrate OpenAi’s programs into its own products.
Baidu’s ‘Ernie Bot’
Just hours later, on the other side of the world, another tech giant announced its own competitor to ChatGPT.
Chinese tech company Baidu said it was on track to complete testing of its own conversational AI bot, named “Ernie Bot” in English, by March. Like Google, Baidu reportedly plans to integrate bots as part of its search engine, using generative AI to compose written answers to search queries.
Baidu shares were up 15.6% at 2:40 p.m. Hong Kong time.
Baidu is investing heavily in artificial intelligence to help it regain lost ground from its competitors. The company was one of the first successful Internet companies in China, offering search to Chinese users (within the limits of Chinese Internet censorship). Yet the company failed to capitalize on the rise of the smartphone, losing ground in advertising and video to companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and ByteDance.
Baidu CEO Robin Li cited ChatGPT as an example of a technology where the company could get ahead of its rivals in an internal meeting last December, Bloomberg reports.
Last year, Baidu launched ERNIE-ViLG, an image-generating AI similar to programs such as Stable Diffusion. Users report that the program generates some images, such as including Chinese material, better than its Western counterparts, however MIT Technology Review Note ERNIE-ViLG does not generate images of material deemed politically sensitive.
Baidu is also developing self-driving cars. The company won permission from authorities last December to test driverless robotaxis in Beijing.
OpenAI has only made ChatGPT available in mainland China so far. Nevertheless, the program has gone viral in the country, as Chinese internet users look for ways to access the app.
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