Baidu released the latest version of its AI foundation model ERNIE on Tuesday at the Baidu World 2023 conference, a mere four months after the previous release. At the launch, the tech giant claimed the capabilities of ERNIE 4.0 were as advanced as OpenAI’s GPT-4 model.
Details: Co-founder and CEO Robin Li showed off ERNIE 4.0 during a one-hour presentation, showcasing the model’s ability to generate advertising posters and marketing videos in real time. Li also asked it to write a martial arts novel based on prompts, underscoring the enhanced memory capabilities of the iterated model.
- Baidu did not disclose the number of parameters used to train the updated model at the event, merely saying that ERNIE 4.0 saw “similar improvements” in understanding and prompting capabilities, but without specifying whether this was compared to the previous iteration or to some other standard. The company said that enhancements in memory and reasoning are twice and three times that of understanding, respectively, but again didn’t clarify to what they were comparing the new model.
- The search giant has embedded AI capabilities into its flagship products including search and maps, introducing new upgrades in recent months. Li laid out his vision for Baidu, aiming to leverage AI-driven thinking to create native apps tailored for the AI era. He singled out Baidu Wenku, an online interactive document-sharing platform, as a product that has undergone radical transformation, evolving into a “productivity tool” that assists users in content creation.
- Baidu failed to launch new official plug-ins for its chatbot service ERNIE Bot this time, but the company mentioned that around 27,000 developers have applied to join the firm’s plug-in ecosystem platform since it was unveiled last month. The company first incorporated plug-in functionality into the ChatGPT-like service when it upgraded ERNIE to version 3.5 in June, and then added three more plug-ins two months later.
Context: Rebuilding applications with large language models has been embraced by tech giants from Microsoft to Baidu and Alibaba. Robin Li sees the AI model as an opportunity to overhaul all of Baidu’s products, aligning with the vision of Daniel Zhang, former chairman and chief executive of Alibaba, who also stated that all Alibaba products would undergo a comprehensive upgrade through integration into its AI model.
- ERNIE Bot, powered by Baidu’s foundation model, was made fully accessible to the public on August 31, and has amassed a user base of 45 million, according to the company’s announcements on Tuesday.