Chinese technology companies Baidu and ByteDance have launched their artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots to the public after receiving regulatory approval from Beijing. This move is expected to help the companies improve their models and commercialize the technology to compete with Microsoft’s OpenAI.
Baidu’s chatbot, Ernie, was previously available only to a limited number of users for testing purposes. However, as of Thursday, anyone with a Chinese phone number can access the free chatbot. Baidu’s founder and CEO, Robin Li, stated that this public rollout will allow Baidu to gather valuable real-world feedback to enhance the chatbot at a faster pace and boost advertising revenue.
ByteDance, along with AI start-ups SenseTime and Zhipu, also launched their chatbots to the public. This development follows approvals from Beijing, where tech groups must seek permission before launching generative AI services to ensure control over the disseminated content.
The approval comes as US tech giants like Microsoft and Google continue to make advancements in AI technology. OpenAI’s latest chatbot version, GPT-4, allows users to input both images and text and ask questions about pictures. Analysts believe that China is under pressure to make their AI models public to keep up with US companies, highlighting the need for widespread usage to push forward algorithm development.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates has also joined the race to compete in the growing AI chatbot field. An AI group linked to Abu Dhabi’s ruling family recently launched what it claims to be the world’s highest-quality Arabic AI software.
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