From state media to a Shaolin temple, Baidu's ChatGPT-style bot sees partner rush

People walk near a Baidu logo at the company headquarters in Beijing
People walk near a Baidu logo at the company headquarters in Beijing, China April 23, 2021. REUTERS/Florence Lo

BEIJING, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Chinese organisations, from state media to a Shaolin temple, said on Tuesday they have signed partnerships with Baidu's ChatGPT-style project, ahead of an expected launch next month.

The Chinese search engine giant (9888.HK) last week announced that it would complete internal testing of its “Ernie Bot" in March. It is a large artificial intelligence (AI) powered language model that seeks to rival Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s hit chatbot.

China's Shaolin Temple, the cradle of Chinese kung fu, said in a statement it would work with Baidu to integrate Ernie into its operations with the purpose of creating an AI-driven content environment.

Over a dozen Chinese media outlets also said they had entered tie-ups with Baidu, including the state-owned Shanghai Securities Journal. The journal said that it would use the chatbot to increase its competitiveness and lead an "upgrade" in the financial media industry.

Baidu's banking joint venture with CITIC (601998.SS), as well as its electric vehicle arm Jidu Auto, also said on Tuesday they would integrate Ernie into their operations.

A Baidu spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The stream of announcements highlights the growing enthusiasm for generative AI in China, after ChatGPT became the fastest-growing consumer application in history, raising awareness in China about how advanced the U.S.’ AI efforts are.

Many other Chinese tech companies, big and small, have said they are working on their own ChatGPT products, including Alibaba Group (9988.HK) and (9618.HK).

Reporting by Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Editing by Brenda Goh and Sharon Singleton

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