Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li (pictured) claimed the latest version of its generative AI model Ernie 4.0 not only is a leader in China but also matches the sophistication and capabilities of ChatGPT-4 developed by OpenAI.

At Baidu World 2023 in Beijing, Li officially introduced the chatbot which he believes is the most powerful large language model developed, featuring significant improvements in understanding, logic and memory.

Li demonstrated some capabilities of the upgraded Ernie bot, which was first launched in March, including creating advertising copy, posters and a video in less than three minutes. He also invited users to test the beta version.

The CEO noted Chinese users are naturally willing to embrace new technologies, adding: “With advanced basic large-scale models, we can build a prosperous AI ecosystem and jointly create a new round of economic growth,” media outlet Sohu wrote.

Li said AI aided it in rebuilding some of its product lines.

Richard Windsor, founder of industry blog Radio Free Mobile, noted improvements are focused on its ability to understand natural Chinese language and to respond, giving Baidu the confidence to give a live demonstration, rather than pre-recorded as it did in March.

Windsor highlighted the claim Ernie 4.0’s abilities are on par with ChatGPT-4 is impossible to verify because the two are trained on completely different datasets.

He believes the upgrade remains quite some distance behind the best from OpenAI and Google due to state controls and more limited China-based datasets.

Baidu was one of the first to receive government approval to release AI products to the public in August.

The Chinese search giant said Ernie has more than 45 million users.

During its Q2 earnings call in August, Li stated: “We are determined to make Ernie the most popular foundation model in China”, noting it is using the chatbot to enhance search, and improve, rebuild and create new offerings.