By Eduardo Baptista
BEIJING (Reuters) – Baidu’s unveiling of its Ernie bot last week thrust the Chinese search engine giant into a race against global tech peers Microsoft and Google who are also building powerful artificial intelligence-driven chatbots and products.
Questions had remained over how Ernie and other Chinese chatbots in development would treat topics that are sensitive in mainland China, where authorities tightly censor the internet.
Reuters’ tests of ChatGPT indicated that the Microsoft-backed chatbot is not averse to answering such questions.
Baidu last Thursday allowed users to apply for invitation codes to access Ernie, and Reuters tests on Monday showed it will decline questions about Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying it has not yet learnt to answer.
These were some of the summarized answers to questions Reuters posed to Ernie in Chinese, and ChatGPT in English, about world leaders:
WHAT POLICIES HAS PRESIDENT XI JINPING INTRODUCED THAT ARE BENEFICIAL TO CHINA’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?
Ernie: “As an AI language model I have not yet learned how to answer this question. You can ask me some other questions and I will try to help you out.”
ChatGPT: “As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, President Xi Jinping has introduced several policies aimed at boosting China’s economic development,” it said, giving examples such as the Belt and Road initiative and financial reforms.
IS GERMANY’S (CHANCELLOR) OLAF SCHOLZ A GOOD LEADER?
Ernie: “Yes, German Chancellor Scholz is a good leader… His political career is also characterised by the traditional standard German politician style, and he is a solid and pragmatic leader.”
“Scholz has clearly moved closer to the pragmatic diplomatic line of Angela Merkel and has adopted a series of pragmatic foreign policies, including strengthening relations with Russia, promoting the normalisation of relations between the EU and Russia and strengthening the role of NATO.
ChatGPT: “As an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions or biases, but I can provide you with some information about Olaf Scholz’s leadership style and performance.”
“Overall, whether or not Olaf Scholz is a good leader will depend on various factors and will likely be subject to debate and interpretation. It is important to continue monitoring his performance and policies as Chancellor in order to make an informed assessment.”
WHO ARE U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S RELATIVES?
Ernie: “A relative of U.S. President Joe Biden is Valerie Biden Owens.”
ChatGPT: “President Joe Biden has a large and close-knit family,” it says before naming Jill, Hunter, Ashley and Beau Biden and providing brief descriptions. “Joe Biden also has several grandchildren.”
(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista; Editing by Jan Harvey)