China’s Baidu Rolls Out AI "ERNIE Bot"

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The Facts

  • The Chinese search giant Baidu rolled out its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot "ERNIE bot" on Thursday. The release is a major development for China's technology sector as AI booms within the tech sector.

  • Beijing issued new regulations for PRC AI developers earlier this month. The regulations are meant to increase competition while maintaining tight information controls.

The Spin

Pro-China narrative

After US company OpenAI launched ChatGPT earlier this year, the race is on to develop generative artificial intelligence models. Beijing sees AI as a key industry to rival the US and aims to become a global leader by 2030. The PRC is now officially a major player in the vibrant AI sector.

Anti-China narrative

ERNIE Bot is overtly parroting PRC talking points. Beijing's new regulations also include provisions for labeling AI-generated content and curtailing false and harmful information, offering state-approved answers to "taboo" questions. Service providers must also hand over their algorithms to the authorities if their software is viewed to have an impact on public opinion — this is a concerning development.

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