HaChinese billionaire Robin Li’s search giant Baidu has confirmed plans to roll out a ChatGPT-style service. That sent an immediate rally in the Hong Kong-listed shares, which had surged more than 14% as of noon on Tuesday.

The Beijing-based company has named its own version of its artificial intelligence-based chatbot Ernie Bot, according to a press release Tuesday morning. This will officially start in March after completing internal testing. Development of such an enhanced chatbot is said to have first started in September last year. Because Baidu has spent billions in recent years researching his AI for additional revenue streams.

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A Baidu representative declined to comment on whether the company will charge users of Ernie Bot.Just last week, OpenAI, the San Francisco-based company behind ChatGPT, offered users a $20 monthly fee Now offering premium version. Called ChatGPT Plus, it comes with features such as faster access during peak times and faster response to queries. , got about 1 million users in a few days.

Baidu, meanwhile, is not the only AI-related company that is seeing growing investor enthusiasm in China. Just last week, shares of companies such as Shanghai-listed Beijing Deep Glint Technology and Shenzhen-listed Hanwang Technology surged as investors looked for their own version of ChatGPT. It was around that time that reports first surfaced that Baidu was developing a similar chatbot service.

But as the Chinese people access information from an increasingly diverse set of sources, such as the Instagram-like Xiaohongshu app and the short-video platform Douyin, the move to commercialize AI has taken off with search engines. It’s even more urgent for operators. To make up for declining user interest, the billionaire Mr. Li entrusts his Baidu’s future to his AI, venturing into areas such as self-driving, cloud his computing and semiconductor chips. . Sales for the September quarter were reported at 32.5 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) for him, better than expected, but online sales still accounted for more than half of his sales.

Forbes details

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