Will China soon lead the AI race? Ernie 4.0 leads 40 AI models approved by China in the past half year

China opened approval process for AI models last year.

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Key notes

  • China has approved at least 40 AI models in the past 6 months, according to its government-backed agency.
  • One of them is Ernie 4.0, a model from popular search engine Baidu.
  • During its initial announcement, Baidu claims that it’s on par if not better than OpenAI’s GPT-4.

The Chinese government has a lot of catching up to do in the AI race against the United States. The Xi Jinping-led authorities opened the approval process for AI models last year, and it seems to be thriving.

Reports from Reuters quoting the Chinese government-backed Securities Times on Monday said that China has approved at least 40 AI models to be used by the public in the past six months. One of them is Ernie 4.0 from Baidu, the Chinese largest search engine, which claims to be on par with OpenAI’s GPT-4

From those 40, a total of at least 14 large language models (LLMs) were approved. Some of the approvals’ recipients include Alibaba, the famed marketplace, ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, and Xiaomi, the smartphone and tech-making company.

Despite that, however, Baidu’s shares fell shortly after the announcement, and the Chinese government’s regulation for AI companies to comply with data & technology requests makes it harder to create an AI model. 

Ernie 4.0 is currently in preview and only a handful of users can test it for now. The company further said at that time that the AI model would be added to the search engine, much like how Copilot is for Microsoft’s Bing, as well as maps, cloud drive services, and more.

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