Baidu has introduced a large-scale natural language processing model called ERNIE (Enhanced Representation through kNowledge IntEgration) for general public use. Previously, the access to ERNIE was limited to selected companies for experimental purposes only. Now, the ERNIE app has quickly gained popularity in China.
Users of ERNIE are required to register using their national identification number and are warned by the chatbot that they will be held responsible if they engage in discussions related to sensitive or legally risky topics.
AFP tested ERNIE and found that the chatbot provided politically biased answers in line with the Chinese government’s stance on certain issues or simply avoided answering altogether, prompting users to change the topic. For instance, when asked about Taiwan, ERNIE would affirm it as part of China and echo the Chinese government’s position that China will do whatever it takes to reunify the country. However, when asked about the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, ERNIE immediately redirected the conversation.
Sources: CNBC, The Japan Times