Baidu Shares Rise On Positive Ernie AI Reviews

Hong Kong-traded shares in Baidu, the Chinese search giant, have rebounded after financial analysts tested its ChatGPT-like tool, named Ernie, and gave positive preliminary responses.

Baidu’s shares had plunged up to 10 percent last Thursday after it unveiled Ernie in a presentation that left viewers disappointed.

“That’s it?” wrote many WeChat users at the end of the roughly 45-minute presentation, which was viewed by about 2 million users on the social media app.

But the company’s shares rose more than 14 percent on Friday after financial houses including Citigroup and Bank of America wrote positively about their experiences with Ernie.

User tests

“We tried testing Ernie Bot for a few tasks like advice, analysis, paper writing, picture generation and we are satisfied with the results,” wrote Bank of America analysts in a research note.

They added the sample size was small and may not be representative, but “the product is not static but continuously learning and improving”.

Citigroup said it had tested Ernie on the day of launch with complicated and absurd questions and found it could answer the majority of them.

Baidu has released Ernie to limited outside testers and hasn’t yet indicated when it might make the tool more widely available.

‘Pleasantly surprised’

During the launch Baidu founder Robin Li stood beside a chat screen and narrated questions that had been typed into the chatbot earlier.

“Sometimes when we use it we are pleasantly surprised, sometimes we may think there is an obvious error,” he told the audience.

“But one thing is for sure, it’s advancing very fast.”

Observers were disappointed that Baidu released only a pre-recorded demo and not a live presentation, raising questions about the technology.

Generative AI

Baidu is considered the frontrunner of all the Chinese tech giants rushing to bring out competitors to the wildly popular ChatGPT tool from Microsoft-backed OpenAI.

The Chinese firm was reportedly taken off guard by ChatGPT’s public launch late last year and, like Google, has been rushing to catch up.

Google recently announced plans to integrate generative AI into its products, but a glitch in its presentation similarly caused the company’s shares to nosedive.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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