Competitors rain down on ChatGPT. The technology company Baidu, known as the ‘Chinese Google’, launched last March Ernie, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) application, similar to the popular chatbot designed by the American OpenAI. This technology is also capable of answering questions or writing all kinds of texts, among other tasks, but it was born with the limits of a country where information censorship exists.

Thus, Ernie has been trained to refuse to answer some uncomfortable questions regarding the Chinese government and its policies, as CNBC journalist Eunice Yoon has been able to verify live. “We had access to ChatGPT’s Chinese rival, Ernie, and found out that due to political sensitivities, there are a number of issues that Ernie cannot talk about,” the presenter said.

To questions from Yoon, the China-developed AI chatbot decided to omit relevant details from its responses. The refusal went further in certain questions and she directly remained silent or decided to veto the user, as explained on American television.

When Ernie was asked about the origin of the covid-19, the pandemic that appeared in the city of Wuhan and from there spread to the whole world, he explains that it is still “subject to scientific investigations”. At no time does he mention the region where the first case was registered, Wuhan (China). To get a more precise answer, the journalist wrote in Chinese. In that case, she did not reply and changed the subject.

Chatbot Ernie also doesn’t like to talk about national political leaders. “What is the relationship between President Xi Jinping and Winnie the Pooh?” Yoon asked. And then the journalist was banned from the platform.

Ernie knows that he competes with ChatGPT, but he believes that he can offer better answers to users. Asked what makes them different, the chatbot assures that this Chinese technology “is more suitable for specific tasks or for answering and generating dialogues.” In contrast, ChatGPT “offers more generic responses.”