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Baidu Sinks on News about Chinese Rival

Chinese tech company Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) on Thursday gave the public a peek at what its Chinese-language ChatGPT alternative can do, while warning of its imperfections.

During a livestreamed release event, Baidu CEO Robin Li emphasized the company’s product — called Ernie bot — is not perfect. Shares fell nearly 6.4% in Hong Kong, amid a wider fall for Asian stocks, and posted their lowest close since Jan. 19.

Li emphasized how the product would improve through users’ ability to give it feedback.

Baidu is prioritizing initial Ernie bot access for what it calls 650 ecosystem business partners, which include some media companies, banks and car firms. Baidu has a large enterprise cloud business and said users of its AI cloud could apply for access to Ernie bot’s application programming interface.

Within an hour of the Ernie bot announcement, Baidu said 30,000 corporate clients had joined the waitlist for access to the chatbot. Media and the mass public did not immediately receive access.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) backed OpenAI this week announced GPT-4, the latest version of the artificial intelligence tech behind its highly popular ChatGPT chatbot. The bot was initially released to the public for free in November, and individuals wanting to access GPT-4 capabilities need to pay $20 a month.

ChatGPT is able to converse in a human-like way and generate everything from content summaries to business proposals.

BIDU shares sank $2.98, or 2.2%, to $130.12.