Baidu announces that its Ernie bot, similar to ChatGPT, has surpassed 200 million users.

Chinese tech giant Baidu recently announced a significant milestone for its Ernie bot, a ChatGPT-like chatbot, as it surpassed an impressive 200 million users. This announcement was made by Baidu CEO Robin Li during the AI Create conference where he also shared plans for another round of the company’s AI development competition, highlighting a substantial prize of 50 million yuan ($7 million).

An event attended by about 5,000 people, Li showcased three development tools – AgentBuilder, AppBuilder, and ModelBuilder. These tools are designed to facilitate the creation and integration of AI-powered chatbots with Baidu’s web search, as well as empower users to develop applications without the necessity of coding knowledge.

The Ernie bot was introduced by Baidu over a year ago and received approval for public use from Beijing in August. Leveraging Baidu’s extensive language model Ernie, this chatbot has gained traction with major smartphone companies like Samsung and Honor embedding Ernie’s AI capabilities in certain mobile devices.

According to Baidu, as of December, over 26,000 businesses were actively utilizing Ernie’s capabilities on a monthly basis, with the chatbot handling more than 50 million queries daily. Looking ahead, Li outlined expectations for the increasing contribution of AI revenues by 2024, alongside the assurance of a resilient core business. Baidu is slated to disclose its first-quarter results on May 16, providing further insights into its growth trajectory and financial performance.

In response to the global pursuit of AI capabilities and content generation, the demand for Nvidia’s graphics processing units has surged significantly. These GPUs are crucial for powering the computational requirements of running and training large language models. However, U.S. export controls in recent years have posed restrictions on China’s access to high-end semiconductors, impacting technological advancements in the AI sector.

In a strategic move, Baidu has amassed an AI chip reserve aimed at enhancing Ernie’s capabilities over the next couple of years, as highlighted by Li during a recent earnings call. While China faces challenges in narrowing the AI development gap with the U.S., investments and initiatives from companies like Alibaba and Baidu underscore the commitment to advancing AI technologies in the region.

Industry analysts anticipate that Chinese firms could gain a competitive edge in AI applications, driving market growth in areas such as hardware, software, and services. Estimates suggest that China’s AI market is poised to surpass $26 billion by 2026, reflecting a substantial increase compared to previous years and outpacing global trends in digital transformation spending.

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