Bard And Ernie

Image source: Sesame Workshop NDR and midjourney AI

What's going on?

Chinese internet giant Baidu announced on Tuesday that it’s planning to launch its own artificial intelligence (AI) tool.

What does this mean?

Tech’s having something of a midlife crisis right now, but instead of bagging motorbikes, graying firms have seized on something much more exciting: AI. Earlier this week Google revealed it’s got an AI-powered chatbot called Bard in the works, and Microsoft’s already poured $10 billion into OpenAI – a higher price tag than the Harley-Davidsons most midlife crises involve. And now that Baidu’s heard the neighborhood dads revving their brand-new engines, China’s biggest search engine’s decided to test drive some wheels of its own: after spending billions on AI research, the firm’s planning to roll out Ernie, China’s answer to ChatGPT, next month. That was all investors needed to hear: they jacked shares up 15% to give Baidu its best day since March.

Why should I care?

For markets: Rare riches.
Investors everywhere have caught artificial intelligence fever, snapping up AI-related shares like it’s 1997 and the mall just stocked new Beanie Babies. That enthusiasm also means that startups aiming to overtake OpenAI are flush with funding, creating a rare bright spot in the otherwise dim tech space. Case in point: less than three months into 2023, multiple AI companies have either already raised or are on track to raise almost a cumulative billion dollars in funding – no mean feat these days.

For you personally: Dare to doubt.
Let’s be real: the ChatGPT hype is really about the platform’s potential, and less about what it’s delivering in the here and now. After all, there are examples aplenty of the chatbot spitting out straight-up errors with serene robotic self-confidence. That’ll probably change over time, as lively competition forces companies to improve their offerings, but for now, think of ChatGPT and its ilk as useful but fallible tools, whose efforts need sharp-eyed fact checking and a healthy dose of common sense. In short, don’t be like CNET.

Originally posted as part of the Finimize daily email.

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