Baidu's ERNIE Chatbot Is Better Than OpenAI's GPT-4 In Imperial Chinese Poetry

ERNIE, Baidu AI, Tang poetry

China is so big, but so shielded from foreign influences. This is giving huge advantage to Chinese companies.

Since China’s domestic market is largely censored, and that policies also prohibit non-vetted products to be used in the region, China literally leave a market of over 1 billion internet consumers open to local players.

And in the world where AI has taken the spotlight, thanks to the West's influence and OpenAI, the East that also took notice, has players like Baidu, the leading contender in China.

To compete against OpenAI's GPT-4, Baidu has what it calls 'ERNIE'.

According to founder and CEO Robin Li, in an interview with Chinese state television CCTV that came a week ahead of the one-year anniversary of ERNIE's initial release in March 2023, the executive said that the chatbot is way better than GPT-4 in imperial Chinese poetry.

Baidu CEO Robin Li speaks in an interview with CCTV
Baidu CEO Robin Li speaks in an interview with CCTV.

Robin Li used the example of a Tang dynasty poetry meter to demonstrate what he says is ERNIE 4.0’s superiority to OpenAI’s GPT-4 on Chinese language tasks.

He said that ERNIE has shown higher aptitude when tasked with creating poetry in the form of a complex Tang dynasty scheme known as Qinyuanchun.

"If I asked GPT to compose a poem following the Qinyuanchun scheme, the tool would become totally confused," Li said, adding the reason is because the creator of ChatGPT "lacks the understanding of whether the first sentence should consist of four words or five."

Tang poetry refers to poetry written in or around the time of or in the characteristic style of China's Tang dynasty, which ranges from (June 18, 618 to June 4, 907, including the 690–705 reign of Wu Zetian.

In what is considered the Golden Age of Chinese poetry, poetry flourished like never before in Chinese history, with poets like Li Bai, Du Fu, and Wang Wei crafting verses that continue to enchant readers centuries later.

One of the defining features of Tang poetry is its emphasis on nature. Poets drew inspiration from the natural world, using it as a canvas to explore themes of beauty, transience, and the interconnectedness of all things.

From majestic mountains, tranquil rivers, and the subtle beauty of everyday life - all captured in meticulously crafted verses that evoke emotions and imagery with unparalleled grace.

Besides that, Tang poetry is also deeply introspective, with poets that often reflect on the human condition, exploring themes of love, longing, and the passage of time.

According to Li, his company's chatbot has mastered this type of poetry.

The Complete Tang Poems includes over 48,900 poems written by over 2,200 authors, so for certain, Baidu has trained ERNIE with this massive data, in order to make it understand how the art works.

Baidu, ChatGPT
Baidu aims to compete against OpenAI in the AI sphere, the company that started this overall generative AI trend.

Baidu has made huge leaps in AI development, and Li has has repeatedly made public comments about Baidu AI’s ability to match or even surpass OpenAI’s models.

But Li's bold claims have drawn criticisms.

Many people said that there are large gaps between ERNIE and GPT-4, and that ERNIE is still an underdog.

Li said that he was not disappointed about that, everyone has the rights to speak and comment.

But Li hopes that he can "change these views" within a year.

While Li's claims that have drawn online criticism from users, the number of Ernie Bot users exceeded 100 million in 2023, and that revenue from Baidu’s generative AI services and related businesses reached 656 million yuan in the fourth quarter, about 7.8% of cloud service revenue of 8.6 billion yuan or 1.8% of the company’s 35 billion yuan in total revenue, Baidu said..

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