War of the AI: The Rivalry Intensifies for ChatGPT


by Catherine

Ever since OpenAI released its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot ChatGPT to the public on 30 November 2022 and became the talk of the town, the AI hype has intensified. ChatGPT is the fastest growing AI chatbot as of now; it accrued one million users in a mere five days after its launch, causing the site to crash. Below is a screenshot of what it looked like if you had attempted to enter.

Due to its immense popularity, its parent company, OpenAI, doubled its valuation to $29 billion after its launch. Want to find out a little more about this trippy AI chatbot that has been on everyone’s lips? Check out this article.

There is something to look forward to with regard to ChatGPT ─ OpenAI announced that they are piloting a new subscription plan, ChatGPT Plus. On its blog, it states that it will be available for $20/month and subscribers will receive a host of benefits like general access to ChatGPT even during peak timings, faster response times, and priority access to new features and improvements.

However, technology is always evolving and innovating, and with the addition of the sudden prominence and promising outlook of ChatGPT, many companies are hell-bent on jumping onto the AI bandwagon and competing in the AI arms race.

Meet Ernie, Chinese tech giant Baidu’s own offering, which is short for “Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration”. The first among its Chinese counterparts to join the AI chatbot space, Baidu revealed that internal testing of the ChatGPT-style project called “Ernie Bot” will be completed in March. Based on a report by Reuters, Baidu has been working on Ernie since 2019 and expressed that its “underlying generative AI incorporates huge swaths of data, which should make it more useful.”

A Baidu spokesperson expressed in an article on The Register, that Ernie “expands into a series of advanced big models that can perform a wide range of tasks, including language understanding, language generation (ERNIE 3.0 TITAN), and text-to-image generation (ERNIE-ViLG).” The spokesperson added, “What sets ERNIE apart from other language models is its ability to integrate extensive knowledge with massive data, resulting in exceptional understanding and generation capabilities.”

The bot will be named “文心一言” or “ERNIE Bot” in English.

On 8 February, Microsoft announced the launch of an all-new, AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser, to provide better search, more complete answers, a new chat experience, and the ability to generate content. Microsoft sees them as an AI copilot for the web.

Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, stated that, “AI will fundamentally change every software category, starting with the largest category of all ─ search. Today, we’re launching Bing and Edge powered by AI copilot and chat, to help people get more from search and the web.”

On Microsoft’s blog with regard to the company innovating together with OpenAI, it mentioned that, “The work we are doing with OpenAI builds on our company’s yearslong effort to ensure that our AI systems are responsible by design. We will continue to apply the full strength of our responsible AI ecosystem ─ including researchers, engineers and policy experts ─ to develop new approaches to mitigate risk.”

Satya also spoke to CBS news about Bing’s new AI-powered features, which you can watch here.

The new Bing is availble for limited preview on desktop and anyone can visit the website to test out sample queries and sign up for the waitlist. A mobile experience will be in preview shortly.

On 9 February, according to Reuters, Alibaba Group announced “it is developing a ChatGPT-style tool that is currently in internal testing, joining a race by tech companies globally to show they are up to speed on generative artificial intelligence (AI) developments.”

As much as you want to ride on the AI hype, it might prove detrimental if things are rushed and Google is the first to bite on its own tongue. At the start of this week, Google announced its AI chatbot Bard, the response to ChatGPT’s behemoth success. It was stated that “just like ChatGPT, Google Bard will bring direct answers to the questions asked by users, but the Bard AI bot will probably be better than ChatGPT. Unlike ChatGPT which has data stored till 2021 only, Google Bard can search the internet in real-time to get the best and most accurate answers.”

It was unfortunate to say the least that Bard was not off to a great start with experts pointing out that the bot made a factual error in its promotional video. A GIF shared by Google displays Bard answering the question: “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9 year old about?” It answered with three bullet points and one point mentioned that the telescope “took the very first pictures of a planet outside of our own solar system.”

A handful of astronomers on Twitter pointed out that the statement was false.

Director of University of California Observatories at UC Santa Cruz, Bruce Macintosh, pointed out the error on Twitter, “Speaking as someone who imaged an exoplanet 14 years before JWST was launched, it feels like you should find a better example.” Astrophysicist Grant Tremblay also tweeted his response below.

Thanks to the blunder amid an overall lackluster launch, about 10% (approx. $120 billion) of Alphabet’s market value, Google’s parent company, was wiped out. “This highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process, something that we’re kicking off this week with our Trusted Tester program. We’ll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information,” Jane Park, a spokesperson for Google, told The Verge in a statement.

Senior Software Analyst Gil Luria at D.A. Davidson explained tactfully that, “While Google has been a leader in AI innovation over the last several years, they seemed to have fallen asleep on implementing this technology into their search product. Google has been scrambling over the last few weeks to catch up on Search and that caused the announcement yesterday (Tuesday) to be rushed and the embarrassing mess up of posting a wrong answer during their demo.”

The internet has many names for this recent AI hype, “Battle of the AI Supremacy”, “Battle of the AI”, “The AI Arms Race”; the list goes on. Whatever the case, the AI hype is still gaining traction with tons of potential. The competition may be fierce but at the end of the day, the need for continued research and development to improve the accuracy, fairness, and robustness of AI systems, is part and parcel of advancing AI forward.

It began with ChatGPT so how can it not end with ChatGPT? I took the liberty to “converse” with ChatGPT about its competition. Even at the time of writing, it took a couple of minutes to successfully log into ChatGPT due to its high user volume.

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