Chinese tech giant Baidu on March 16 had unveiled its artificial intelligence chatbot Ernie Bot, projecting it as a rival to Microsoft-backed ChatGPT. The name Ernie stands for “Enhanced Representation of Knowledge Integration.”
However, the Baidu chatbot is not aloof to censorship by the Xi Jinping regime in China. This was evident during a CNBC live broadcast when a reporter asked Ernie about a series of questions including those pertaining to the Chinese government. One of the questions was related to the popular cartoon character Winnie the Pooh.
When the reporter asked the chatbot as to what is the relationship between Xi Jinping and Winnie the Pooh, Ernie responded by saying that the ‘user has been banned’.
Xi Jinping vs Winnie the Pooh
It is no secret that the Chinese government perceives the teddy bear as a symbol of dissent. The discomfort traces back to Jinping’s visit to the United States in 2013 when social media was painted with a photo of the Chinese president walking with Barack Obama was equated with Winnie and Tigger, NPR reported.
The Communist regime has deemed the cartoon a mockery of the president and its policies. Such is the animosity towards the cuddly bear that it censored the Chinese name for Pooh in 2017. It also pulled the “Winnie-the Pooh: Blood and Honey” film from theatres in Hong Kong and Macau, Guardian reported.
Over the years, Winnie The Pooh has become a symbol for the critics to denounce Xi Jingping and his policies in China.
But the cartoon character is not the only subject which Ernie refused to answer about. It also reportedly refused to answer a question on whether Jinping will rule China for life, Business Insider reported. It did not mention China when asked about the origins of Covid-19 virus. The Chinese tech giant has not responded to the website for a comment.
China has already entered the AI arms race with Microsoft and Google. The Baidu chatbot claims it is better at performing tasks like answering questions and generating a dialogue than ChatGPT.