Today, Baidu unveiled what is meant to be China’s strongest rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, but all we got was a pre-recorded presentation followed by Baidu’s share price tanking.

As Reuters reports(Opens in a new window), Baidu’s answer to ChatGPT is called Ernie Bot, and the chatbot has been in development since 2019. Yesterday, Ernie was unveiled in a presentation at Baidu’s headquarters in Beijing. However, rather than a series of real-time interactions with the AI, attendees had to sit through a number of brief, pre-recorded videos.

In the videos, Ernie Bot answers questions about Chinese science fiction novel The Three Body Problem, generated a video and image with text prompts, understood Chinese dialects, and solved some mathematical calculations. The presentation was followed by Baidu’s share price dropping 10%(Opens in a new window).

Baidu CEO Robin Li comments suggest that Ernie Bot isn’t ready for public consumption yet, saying “For sure we cannot say that it’s perfect … So why are we unveiling it today? Because the market demands it.”

Even with this poor showing, Baidu says 650 companies have signed up to use the chatbot in various fields, while Baidu will integrate Ernie into its own search engine. From today, invitation codes will be sent out to some Chinese companies who can start embedding the chatbot into their products.

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The Ernie Bot presentation happened just a couple of days after OpenAI announced GPT-4, which is the next iteration of its multimodal large language model and a major improvement over the GPT-3.5 model used to power ChatGPT. So not only did Ernie Bot fail to show it can compete with ChatGPT, it just fell even further behind the competition. There is another Chinese ChatGPT rival called MOSS, but that crashed a few hours after launching last month.

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