Baidu to implement Ernie AI chatbot into search services from March

Baidu Inc. has announced plans to integrate its artificial intelligence Ernie AI chatbot into its search services from March. Baidu will integrate its chatbot, Ernie Bot, across all of its operations including search, cloud services, smart car operating systems and smart speakers. The move follows the completion of internal testing in March, with Baidu’s CEO calling AI a “tipping point.”

The move follows the completion of internal testing earlier in the month, after which the service will be made public. Ernie Bot will be integrated across all of Baidu’s operations, including its search and cloud services. Baidu CEO, Robin Li, said that the company also plans to integrate Ernie AI chatbot into its smart car operating system and smart speaker.

Baidu is one of China’s largest search and artificial intelligence firms, known for its search engine and autonomous driving technology. The company is leading China’s efforts to create an equivalent of OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT chatbot. Its stock price in New York jumped nearly 7% in pre-market trading Wednesday to more than $150 a share following the announcement.

In an internal memo, Li said that AI technology has reached a tipping point and all industries will inevitably go through transformation. “Baidu stands as the best example of the long-term growth of China’s AI market and is advancing at the forefront of this new wave,” he said. The company also announced a $5 billion share buyback on Wednesday.

Baidu reported revenues of 33.1 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) for the quarter that ended in December, about level with the same period of 2021. Most of Baidu’s revenue comes from its online marketing services, which generated 18.1 billion yuan ($2.62 billion) in sales in the last quarter. Its Apollo Go autonomous ride-hailing services provided 561,000 rides in the fourth quarter, up 162% from a year earlier.

After years of regulatory scrutiny following a crackdown on the technology sector and a sluggish economy battered by COVID-19, companies like Baidu look likely to invest more as China looks to the industry to revive the economy.