Baidu shares leap as Ernie Bot Progress revives AI bets

(Bloomberg) – Shares of Baidu Inc. soared in Hong Kong after billionaire founder Robin Li said he would soon launch a new version of the big-language model powering his ChatGPT-style service.

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Shares rose as much as 6% before being cut as chief executive Li said the model will be used to upgrade the technology behind his suite of artificial intelligence products, including Ernie Bot, like ChatGPT. Other IA stocks, including SenseTime Group Inc. and Meitu Inc., gained at least 3% each.

“Large-language models will give birth to native AI applications,” Li said at an event in Beijing, according to a transcript provided by the company. “Baidu will become the first company to rework all of its products. It’s not about integrating or accessing AI. It is about reworking and restructuring.

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Baidu shares have had a rough ride this year as a hype-driven rally ahead of Ernie’s demo launch in March faltered on disappointment. The latest development, if successful, could boost stocks and help the company ride another global AI frenzy after Nvidia Corp’s surprisingly strong revenue forecast.

“Investors have been waiting for an update on Ernie Bot. Additionally, the AI ​​frenzy spilled over to Chinese markets on Monday after Nvidia’s strong results,” said Steven Leung, Executive Director of UOB Kay Hian. Hong Kong markets were closed on Friday.

Even with Monday’s gains, Baidu shares are down more than 25% from February’s high as its chatbot – China’s first answer to ChatGPT – failed to live up to high expectations.

The Chinese internet giant launched Ernie Bot through several pre-recorded videos in March, defying expectations of a real-time demo, and later delayed a scheduled press briefing to show how the chatbot will be integrated into the cloud service. computing. Investors also questioned Baidu’s ability to launch a Chinese-language AI model.

Baidu was one of the best performers on the Hang Seng gauge of Chinese tech stocks, which reversed a 1.6% gain. Baidu shares narrowed their advance to less than 3% at 1:07 p.m. in Hong Kong.

Ernie Bot is currently only available to certain users. Chinese regulators have said any generative AI service would need their approval before rolling out in the world’s biggest internet arena.

On Friday, Li said countries with AI technology should work together and formulate rules to prevent it from spiraling out of control, joining calls from peers OpenAI Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google for more. surveillance over the nascent sector.

–With the help of Zheping Huang.

(Updates with additional details throughout)

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