Baidu’s Ernie AI ‘Better At Tang Chinese Poetry’ Than Rivals

Baidu chief executive Robin Li. Image credit: Baidu

Baidu chief executive claims Ernie 4 generative AI tops rivals at Chinese language tasks, including composition of Tang Dynasty-era poetry

Ernie 4, the latest generative AI platform from Chinese tech giant Baidu, performs better at some tasks than OpenAI’s GPT-4, including the composition of Tang Dynasty-era poetry, Baidu’s chief executive has claimed.

Baidu chief executive Robin Li made the remarks on Chinese state television CCTV ahead of the one-year anniversary of Ernie’s introduction in March 2023, as intense competition in generative AI services continues to accelerate.

He said that while GPT-4 may outperform Ernie 4 in English-language tasks, Ernie is superior in the Chinese language, including the generation of qinyuanchun verses, which are composed of 114 characters with a complex rhyme scheme.

“Many LLMs can compose poetry, but if they are asked to write a poem using the chant of qinyuanchun, it will be confused,” Li said, according to local media reports.

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Image credit: Unsplash

LLM competition

AI systems from the likes of OpenAI and Google are largely banned in China, leaving the field open for Baidu, Alibaba Group and other domestic tech firms.

As a result Chinese firms have developed hundreds of large language models (LLMs), the technology that drives platforms such as ChatGPT or Ernie, over the past year.

In a November speech Li said Chinese firms had developed 238 LLMs as of the end of October.

In his most recent CCTV interview he said there was little need for so many groups working on the same technology, calling it a waste of resources and labour.

Ernie is one of the biggest of China’s LLMs and surpassed 100 million users last year, Li said.

As generative AI progresses he argued programming jobs would become obsolete, as code could be generated by natural-language prompts.

‘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,” he said.

Li said US export restrictions on advanced AI chips from the likes of Nvidia have had a minimal effect on Baidu’s efforts with Ernie as the company has chips stockpiled and can also use less powerful processors to drive the system.

Baidu can also use alternative chips, he said.

The company reportedly began purchasing AI chips from domestic tech firm Huawei last year, including an order for 1,600 of Huawei’s 910B Ascend AI processors, developed as an alternative to Nvidia’s high-end A100.

Aside from the hardware platform, Baidu can also innovate in architecture, models and applications, Li said.