Baidu Unveils ERNIE Bot, the Latest Generative AI Mastering Chinese Language and Multi-Modal Generation

–  ERNIE Bot is a new-generation large language model (LLM) and generative AI product developed by Baidu.

–  The AI product showcases proficiency in five generative use cases: literary creation, business writing, mathematical calculation, Chinese language understanding, and multi-modal generation.

–  Starting March 16, 2023, ERNIE Bot will be accessible to invited users, and the API will be available upon application to enterprise clients via Baidu AI Cloud.

–  In the first two hours following the press conference, more than 30,000 enterprise users have applied for access to the API of ERNIE Bot Enterprise Edition.

BEIJING, March 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU and HKEX: 9888) (“Baidu” or the “Company”), a leading AI company with strong internet foundation, today introduced ERNIE Bot, a new-generation large language model (LLM) and generative AI product. ERNIE Bot excels in a range of areas, including understanding Chinese language and culture, generating literary and business writing, performing complex mathematical calculations, and producing multi-modal content. The AI product can comprehend human intentions and deliver accurate, logical, and fluent responses approaching human level.

Starting March 16, 2023, ERNIE Bot will be open to an initial group of users with invitation codes and will soon be made available to more users. Baidu is also offering access to the ERNIE Bot API via Baidu AI Cloud, allowing enterprise clients to apply for and harness the platform’s advanced language capabilities. Since February, over 650 enterprises have joined the ecosystem of ERNIE Bot.

Large language models and generative AI represent a new technological paradigm, presenting an opportunity that no global enterprise can afford to miss. ERNIE Bot is positioned as a foundational AI empowering platform, designed to facilitate intelligent transformations across various industries such as finance, energy, media, and public affairs. Robin Li, Baidu Co-founder, Chairman and CEO said: “Baidu envisions a future where we join forces with all to drive the evolution of AI, empowering every individual with access to state-of-the-art productivity tools and ensuring that the benefits of these advancements are shared by all.”

Robin Li, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Baidu delivers speech and presents demos at the ERNIE Bot press conference.

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Transforming productivity tools

At the press conference unveiling ERNIE Bot in Beijing, Robin Li showcased its performance in five scenarios: literary creation, business writing, mathematical calculation, Chinese language understanding, and multi-modal generation.

Literary creation: ERNIE Bot summarized the essential content of the popular Chinese science fiction novel, The Three-Body Problem. It proposed five angles for potential expansion of the story based on dialogue queries, demonstrating its well-rounded expertise in dialogue, analysis and content generation, as well as its factuality and reasoning bolstered by inherent knowledge graphs. Business writing: Able to serve as a versatile business copywriter, ERNIE Bot demonstrated its ability to construct a brand from scratch, encompassing tasks such as devising a name for a company, crafting an engaging brand slogan, and drafting press releases. This high-level creative capacity is possible because ERNIE Bot is trained on trillions of web pages, tens of billions of search and image data, hundreds of billions of daily voice data, and a knowledge graph of 550 billion facts. Mathematical calculation: ERNIE Bot also possesses a level of cognitive ability, enabling it to master relatively complex tasks such as mathematical derivation and logical reasoning. When faced with classic puzzles like the “chicken and rabbit in the same cage” problem, which tests human logical thinking, ERNIE Bot can understand the meaning of the question, develop a correct problem-solving approach, and follow the proper steps to come up with the correct answer. Chinese language understanding: ERNIE Bot demonstrates unparalleled natural language processing (NLP) capabilities in Chinese, which is reflected in its understanding of the Chinese language and cultural nuances. In a demo, ERNIE Bot explained the meaning behind the idiom “Paper is expensive in Luoyang”, which alludes to the high demand for paper due to the popularity of poetry. ERNIE Bot expounded on the economic theory underpinning the idiom – the law of supply and demand – and created a poem incorporating the four Chinese characters of the idiom as the first word of each line. Multi-modal generation: ERNIE Bot can produce text, images, audio and video given a text prompt, and is even capable of delivering voice in several local dialects such as the Sichuan dialect. The video generation features of ERNIE Bot is not yet available to all users due to its relatively high cost.

“Multi-modality is an undeniably future trend for generative AI,” said Robin Li. “In the future, as we continue to refine Baidu’s unified multi-modal large model, ERNIE Bot’s multi-modal generation capabilities will advance.”

ERNIE Bot demonstrates multi-modal generation ability, able to produce text, images, audio and video given a text prompt.

Despite the capabilities of ERNIE Bot, LLM of this type are still far from perfect. Continuous improvement based on real-world user feedback remains essential.

“As soon as we put ERNIE Bot into use,” Li remarked, “we will establish a mechanism where real-world user feedback, developer calls, and model iterations work in synergy to enhance the model more effectively and efficiently.”

Technology foundations of ERNIE Bot

ERNIE Bot is a culmination of years of research and industry practices by Baidu, said Haifeng Wang, CTO of Baidu. This new-generation, knowledge-enhanced LLM is built upon Baidu’s in-house models ERNIE (Enhanced Representation of Knowledge Integration) and PLATO (Pre-trained Dialogue Generation Model). Since its release in 2019, ERNIE has evolved from a natural language understanding model into a model platform with cross-language, cross-modal, cross-industry and cross-task capabilities.

Baidu trained ERNIE Bot using Supervised Fine-Tuning, Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback, Prompt Learning, Knowledge Enhancement, Retrieval Augmentation, and Dialogue Augmentation.

Robin Li, speaking at the press conference, emphasized Baidu’s unique position as one of the few companies worldwide offering a full AI stack. This includes AI chip Kunlun, deep learning framework PaddlePaddle, pre-trained model ERNIE, and a variety of applications such as search, AI cloud, autonomous driving, and Xiaodu smart devices.

Li highlighted that the advantage of Baidu’s full AI-stack lies in its ability to achieve end-to-end optimization, substantially boosting efficiency. The synergy between framework and model lowers costs and streamlines model development. Baidu’s PaddlePaddle framework has been employed in developing 4D hybrid parallel technology, which greatly enhances the efficiency of training and inference for mega-scale models. Baidu’s full AI-stack will facilitate a closed-loop system where each layer can offer feedback, helping ERNIE Bot to continue iterating and improving.

Emerging business opportunities

Li predicted that LLMs will pave the way for three emerging business opportunities: cloud computing firms offering Model-as-a-Service solutions, companies focusing on fine-tuning sector-specific models, and enterprises creating applications built upon LLMs.

Baidu AI Cloud will soon launch cloud services and application products based on ERNIE Bot, including public cloud and privatized deployment, said Li.

“ERNIE Bot is not a tool for China-US Technology confrontation. It is a product of generations of Baidu technicians pursuing the dream of technology changing the world. It is a brand-new platform allowing us to serve hundreds of millions of users and empower thousands of industries, and a powerful example of innovation-driven development,” said Robin Li at the conference. “We believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will revolutionize every industry we know today. The immense long-term value of AI and its transformative impact on all aspects of life are only in their infancy. The future holds numerous groundbreaking applications and products, as well as many more milestone events.”

About Baidu

Founded in 2000, Baidu’s mission is to make the complicated world simpler through technology. Baidu is a leading AI company with strong Internet foundation, trading on the NASDAQ under “BIDU” and HKEX under “9888.” One Baidu ADS represents eight Class A ordinary shares.

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