The Cyberspace Administration of China is reportedly poised to grant approval to a select group of companies, spanning both emerging contenders and established tech giants, as indicated by individuals familiar with the situation. According to an anonymous source, search leader Baidu is anticipated to be among the inaugural recipients of the green light from Beijing’s premier internet oversight authority.
Baidu recently revealed on its official WeChat account that its ChatGPT counterpart, Ernie Bot, is slated to be accessible to the general public starting from August 31. Furthermore, the company intends to launch a series of novel applications, providing users with the opportunity to engage with generative AI technologies.
These approvals come in the wake of comprehensive new regulations governing AI, which the Chinese government implemented mere weeks ago. This official sanctioning will effectively introduce ChatGPT-style services to an estimated one billion or more internet users for the very first time.
This development represents a significant milestone for China’s burgeoning AI sector and its aspirational frontrunners. Since the advent of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, substantial financial investments have been channeled into developing services with the capacity to rival tech titans such as Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
Given the transformative potential of AI, Beijing regards it as both a business imperative and a political necessity. Baidu initially seized the spotlight with the launch of Ernie Bot in March, but Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. have since joined a cadre of startups in promoting their own foundational AI models.
The identities of the companies, apart from Baidu, which secured initial government approval as AI model providers remain undisclosed, as these details are considered private. The Cyberspace Administration of China has not responded to requests for comment, and similarly, Baidu’s spokesperson has not provided a response to email inquiries.