BEIJING (Reuters) -China's Baidu Inc on Tuesday said it would complete internal testing of a ChatGPT-style project called "Ernie Bot" in March, joining a global race as interest in generative artificial intelligence (AI) gathers steam.
Ernie，meaning "Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration," is a large AI-powered language model introduced in 2019, Baidu said. It has gradually grown to be able to perform tasks including language understanding, language generation, and text-to-image generation, it added.
Search engine giant Baidu's Hong Kong-listed shares jumped as much as 13.4% on the news.
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters last week that Baidu was planning to launch such a service in March. The person said Baidu aims to make the service available as a standalone application and gradually merge it into its search engine by incorporating chatbot-generated results when users make search requests.
Generative artificial intelligence, technology that can create prose or other content on command and free up white-collar workers' time, has been gathering significant venture capital investment and interest from tech firms, especially in Silicon Valley.
Defining the category is ChatGPT, a chatbot from Microsoft-backed OpenAI that has been the centre of much buzz since it was released in November. ChatGPT is not available in China but some users have found workarounds to access the service.
(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Christian Schmollinger)