Baidu CEO says its AI model bests OpenAI’s GPT-4 in Imperial Chinese poetry, citing Mao Zedong poem as example

Baidu CEO says its AI model bests OpenAI’s GPT-4 in Imperial Chinese poetry, citing Mao Zedong poem as example

Baidu CEO says its AI model bests OpenAI’s GPT-4 in Imperial Chinese poetry, citing Mao Zedong poem as example

Baidu’s Ernie 4 artificial intelligence (AI) model, one of China’s leading large language models (LLMs), has outperformed similar technologies from US peers in generating Chinese texts such as those in the style of Imperial Chinese poetry, according to Robin Li Yanhong, co-founder and CEO of the internet search giant.

In an hour-long programme aired by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on Saturday, Li said that Ernie 4 outperformed OpenAI’s GPT-4 in Chinese-language tasks, including the production of poems following the Tang dynasty-era qinyuanchun scheme, a 114-character poem with a meter that uses doubled-up tones.

As an example, Li used the famous poem Snow Adopted After the Tune of Chin Yuan Chun, written by former chairman Mao Zedong in 1936. “Many LLMs can compose poetry, but if they are asked to write a poem using the chant of Chin Yuan Chun, it will be confused,” he said in the interview.

A depiction of Mao Zedong writing poetry by artist Yang Zhiguang. Mao was known to use styles popularised by famous Tang-era poets. Photo: Handout
China’s domestic market is largely shielded by protectionist and censorship policies that prohibit non-vetted AI models and applications, leaving the market of 1 billion internet consumers open to players like Baidu, the leading contender in China’s efforts to create an answer to ChatGPT.
Li’s interview came a week ahead of the one-year anniversary of Ernie’s initial release in March 2023. Over the past year, Baidu has repeatedly made public comments about its AI’s ability to match or even surpass OpenAI’s models, claims that have drawn online criticism from users.

The number of Ernie Bot users exceeded 100 million last year, Li said in his CCTV interview. Li also said the development of AI technology will make programmers obsolete.

“There will no longer be a job such as a ‘programmer’, because if you can talk, everyone will have the ability to be a programmer,” the entrepreneur asserted.

Baidu reports modest revenue growth amid signs AI push is starting to pay off

Baidu unveiled an updated version of Ernie Bot during its annual technology conference last October. Li said at the time that Ernie 4.0 was comparable to OpenAI’s GPT-4. Baidu launched a paid version of Ernie 4.0 in November for 59.9 yuan (US$8.33) per month.

Li said that he was not angry about the criticism claiming there are large gaps between Ernie and GPT, as he hopes to “change these views” within a year.

Revenue from Baidu’s generative AI services and related businesses reached 656 million yuan in the fourth quarter, about 7.8 per cent of cloud service revenue of 8.6 billion yuan or 1.8 per cent of the company’s 35 billion yuan in total revenue, Baidu said in February.
ChatGPT and rival products like Google’s Gemini are not officially available in mainland China or Hong Kong, although Microsoft has been pushing its GPT-4-powered Copilot in the region. In the absence of foreign players, Chinese tech giants from traditional internet firms like Baidu and Alibaba Group Holding, owner of the South China Morning Post, to hardware makers like Vivo and Oppo have been pushing their own AI products that are designed to avoid the kinds of sensitive questions and answers that have made third-party ChatGPT apps a target of local regulators.

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