Google and Baidu announce ChatGPT alternatives

Google and Baidu announce ChatGPT alternatives

Beijing, San Francisco, Dusseldorf The ChatGPT program shows how natural the exchange between man and machine could soon work – also in search engines. The chatbot is based on a machine learning model that understands human input and responds in a natural-sounding way. ChatGPT can write poems, summarize texts or even program. Google and Baidu, which dominate this market, have now responded.

Sundar Pichaihead of Google and parent company alphabetannounced on Monday a chatbot called Bard. This is to be integrated into various products, starting with the search engine. Artificial intelligence (AI) can summarize findings where there is not a single correct answer, the manager explained.

First, a limited trial version for “trusted testers” will be released. According to a report by the TV broadcaster CNBC, the CEO has asked his own employees to intensively examine the technology “in the spirit of an internal hackathon”. The service should then be widely available in the “coming weeks”.

Something more specific is Baidu: In March wants the largest Chinese search engine operator introduce the Ernie-Bot. The ChatGPT-like offer will be embedded in the main search services, the group announced on Tuesday. The project, which is called Wenxin Yiyan in Chinese, is currently being tested internally.

Baidu wants to speed up the rollout to work with US search engine providers Google and Microsoft keep up, as stated in a statement. Investors reacted euphorically, with Baidu shares temporarily rising by more than 17 percent on the Hong Kong stock exchange after the announcement.

Microsoft: Integration into numerous products

Google and Baidu have been under pressure since OpenAI released the ChatGPT program in November 2022. Microsoft wants to integrate the start-up’s technology into numerous products after an investment that industry circles estimate at ten billion dollars.

>> Also read: The OpenAI chatbot can do all of this

The group has announced a major press conference at the group’s headquarters in Redmond for Tuesday. There Microsoft could announce the integration of functions like ChatGPT into its own search engine Bing, as reported by the news platform Semafor.

Images that allegedly show the revised search mask were already circulating on the Internet on Monday – Microsoft may have accidentally activated the function for a short time.

Bard seeks to combine the breadth of world knowledge with the power, intelligence, and creativity of our large language models. Sundar Pichai

Similar to Microsoft, Google wants to make broad use of the technology, which experts call generative AI. The initiative consists of three parts: the chatbot Bard, new functions with AI in Google search and the provision of application programming interfaces (APIs) that other developers can use to program AI applications.

The AI-controlled language model Lamda (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) from Google will play a central role in this. The group management celebrated it in 2021 as a “breakthrough in conversation technology”. After that, the model disappeared from public view.

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Bard is based on a variant of Lamda and is described by Google as an “experimental AI service for conversations”. With the name of the service (English: “Barde”), Google alludes to the poet William Shakespeare. England’s national poet is often referred to as the ‘Bard of Avon’.

“Bard seeks to combine the breadth of world knowledge with the power, intelligence, and creativity of our large language models,” Pichai wrote. It draws on information from the Internet back to provide up-to-date, high-quality answers.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Google has been under pressure since OpenAI released the AI ​​program ChatGPT in November 2022.

(Photo: IMAGO/NurPhoto)

In a blog post, Pichai pointed out that Google has been investing in AI for a long time. Management aligned the strategy with this six years ago. Pichai emphasized that the company has made a significant contribution to the latest advances with its research, which is relatively openly accessible.

In 2018, for example, the group demonstrated a program that called restaurants to make a reservation. At the time, the fact that the system did not identify itself as a computer led to criticism. In view of such risks of abuse, Google shied away from a broad market launch.

Baidu: Commercialization of the technology a challenge

The Baidu chatbot is part of the “Ernie” project, which is based on Baidu’s deep learning platform, Paddle Paddle. In addition to texts, he is said to have been trained with data from infographics or other visual forms of representation as well as with Chinese and English-language data sets.

Ernie stands for “Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration”, which can be translated as an improved (result) representation through the integration of knowledge. In the project, Baidu summarizes its generative AI offerings, for example in the areas of language understanding, speech generation and text-to-image generation.

According to the company, a total of 36 of the models have already been released. One example is “Ernie-ViLG”, which allows Internet users to create artificial images by entering text. OpenAI has a similar offering called Dall-E, and Google’s counterpart is called Imagen.


Baidu CEO Robin Li internally in December cited ChatGPT as an example of a technology his company could become a leader in, Bloomberg quoted a transcript as saying. However, he also cautioned that commercializing the technology is a challenge. Baidu is said to have started development of the “Ernie Bot” in September.

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The search engine operator, which was founded in 2000, describes itself as a leading provider of AI. There is no other company that can compete with Baidu in natural language processing.

The group has invested billions in research into AI in recent years and is focusing on future technologies such as quantum computers and autonomous driving.

AI content is censored in China

In the AI ​​index of the US elite university Stanford, which evaluates global progress in the areas of research, development and economy, China comes in just behind USA in second place. In some areas, the People’s Republic is even ahead.

However, like traditional and social media, AI-generated content is also subject to censorship in China. A sample of the specialist publication “MIT Technology Review” – published by the US elite university Massachusetts Institute of Technology – showed that Baidu’s text-to-image offer “Ernie-ViLG” filtered out numerous politically sensitive keywords such as Tiananmen and Xi Jinping.

In January, Internet regulator CAC introduced a new bill to ban AI content that “endangers national security and social stability.” In addition, the respective providers must be liable for the dissemination of misinformation.

In addition, most of the digital offerings can already only be used if you sign up we chat or cell phone number is registered and thus identifiable. In addition to censorship from outside, this often leads to self-censorship by users.

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