Baidu's ChatGPT-like Ernie Bot passes 200 million users, in just eight months

One of the first AI chatbots approved for use in China, Ernie Bot continues to be the county's most popular AI option.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
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Baidu, often seen as China's equivalent to Google, says its Ernie Bot now has more than 200 million active users since the Chinese government approved it for public use eight months ago. According to Reuters, that figure is nearly double the number of users Ernie Bot had in December 2023.

Baidu CEO Robin Li noted that more than 85,000 of those active users are business enterprise clients. Last December, Ernie Bot had 26,000 business users.

Ernie Bot, based on Baidu's large language model Ernie, was the first locally developed chatbot in China and one of the first eight AI tools the country's government approved for public use.

Also: Baidu denies any ties to reported Chinese military training on its GenAI chatbot

In China, companies must obtain approval before deploying generative AI tools. By January 2024, the government had approved more than 40 AI models, but Reuters says that number has grown to 117 today. 

Debuting to the public less than a year ago, Baidu has talked up Ernie Bot plenty. In October 2023, Li publicly said his company's chatbot was as good as ChatGPT, putting it to the test with several complex queries. Ernie solved math problems, wrote a novel, and created videos and photos with ease. "Ernie is not inferior in any respect to GPT-4," Li proclaimed.

In June 2023, Li said that Ernie Bot outperforms ChatGPT, quoting a report from a Chinese national newspaper that assessed Ernie Bot and ChatGPT head to head. The newspaper used a benchmark of 20 public qualification examinations for humans, including ordinary university entrance exams (such as China's college entrance exam and the US' SAT exam). Ernie performed better, the newspaper said.

Ernie Bot could also be compared to GalaxyAI in the US. Ernie is available out-of-the-box on several smartphones in China, including the Samsung Galaxy S24.

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