International Finance

AI gold rush heats up as Baidu rolls out ChatGPT rival Ernie Bot


Chinese tech giant Baidu has rolled out its ChatGPT rival Ernie Bot to the domestic public, an incident which is seen as a major leap for the country’s tech sector, as it aims to rival the United States and the West in the artificial intelligence gold rush.

The Xi Jinping government introduced regulations in August 2023 for AI developers, aiming to allow them to stay in the race with OpenAI and Microsoft while not letting its online information control mechanism loose.

Two artificial intelligence start-ups, Baichuan Intelligent Technology and Zhipu AI, also made public their chatbots.

Ernie Bot is the first domestic artificial intelligence app to be fully available to the public in China. However, the product won’t be available outside the world’s second-largest economy.

“We are thrilled to share that Ernie Bot is now fully open to the general public starting August 31,” Baidu said in a statement, as it added, “In addition to Ernie Bot, Baidu is set to launch a suite of new AI-native apps that allow users to fully experience the four core abilities of generative AI: understanding, generation, reasoning, and memory.”

The chatbot was released in March 2023 but its availability was limited back then.

Baidu is expecting to gain “massive” human feedback to improve the app at a swift pace, CEO Robin Li was quoted as saying in the statement.

However, as per the new rules from Beijing, Chinese generative artificial intelligence apps must “adhere to the core values of socialism” and refrain from threatening national security.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi-based venture Inception announced the open-source release of “Jais”, the world’s highest-quality Arabic Large Language Model. Jais is a 13-billion parameter model trained on a newly developed 395-billion-token Arabic and English dataset.

With a name inspired by UAE’s highest peak, Jais will reportedly bring the advantages of generative AI across the Arabic-speaking world. The innovation was the outcome of a collaboration between Inception, Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) and Cerebras Systems. The product was reportedly trained on Condor Galaxy; the recently announced multi-exaFLOP AI supercomputer built by G42 and Cerebras.

Jais will be offering over 400 million Arabic speakers in the Gulf region the opportunity to harness the generative AI’s potential, while strengthening Abu Dhabi’s leading position as a hub for AI, innovation, culture preservation, and international collaboration.

Through Jais, Inception is aiming to engage the region’s scientific, academic, and developer communities to accelerate the growth of a vibrant Arabic language artificial intelligence ecosystem, while serving as the model for other languages currently underrepresented in mainstream AI.

Jais is also competitive with English AI language models of similar size, despite reportedly being trained on significantly less English data. The artificial intelligence tool also incorporates cutting-edge features like ALiBi position embedding, which enables the model to extrapolate to much longer user inputs, thus providing better context handling and accuracy. Other state-of-the-art techniques include SwiGLU and maximal update parameterisation to improve the model’s training efficiency and accuracy.

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