Baidu AI bot gets Chinese regulatory nod

BEIJING (Reuters): Tech giant Baidu (9888.HK) on Wednesday received approval from Chinese authorities to launch its artificial intelligence Ernie Bot to the general public starting Aug. 31, a spokesperson told Reuters.

Baidu became the first company to receive such approval after regulatory setbacks and is also set to launch a suite of new AI-native apps.

The company has been embedding Ernie, which resembles OpenAI’s ChatGPT, into its search engine and other products, allowing many of them to gain market share while waiting for Chinese regulators’ approval.

In July, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said only providers who wanted to offer services to the public would need to submit security assessments and that regulators would seek to support the development of the technology.

Investment has poured into China’s generative AI scene and its firms such as Baidu and Alibaba Group (9988.HK) have launched dozens of AI models but delayed rolling out chatbots to the public until Beijing finalized rules for the technology and approved their products.