Ernie Bot evades questions on President Xi Jinping and COVID-19

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Baidu’s AI system, Ernie Bot, which is seen as a competitor to ChatGPT, is reportedly refusing to answer sensitive questions about Chinese President Xi Jinping and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a CNBC “Squawk Box” segment, reporter Eunice Yoon tried to ask about the relationship between President Xi and Winnie the Pooh in both English and Chinese. However, Ernie Bot remained silent, and Yoon’s access to the AI system was disabled. This is linked to a ban imposed by President Xi in 2017 due to online comparisons between him and the character of Winnie the Pooh, which originated from a meme featuring a photo of Xi alongside former President Barack Obama.

Ernie was also asked about the origin of the COVID-19 virus in both English and Chinese. In English, Ernie stated that the origin is still under scientific investigation, without mentioning that it came from China or the possibility of a lab leak in Wuhan. In Chinese, Ernie avoided the question and asked Yoon to talk about something else. Ernie also declined to comment on China’s decision to end its “zero-COVID” policies after protests in the country.

It also declined to address political queries and boasted about being more suited in specialized jobs like question answering and conversation generation than ChatGPT, which is more generic in its capacity to interpret and produce natural language.

The sources for this piece include an article in NewYorkPost.

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