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ChatGPT’s Chinese rival shuts up when asked about origin of Covid, bans users if they disparage Xi Jinping

ChatGPT’s Chinese rival shuts up when asked about origin of Covid, bans users if they disparage Xi Jinping


By Ankita Chakraborty: ChatGPT is banned in China, but that doesn’t mean the Chinese don’t have access to AI chatbots like us. China has its own ChatGPT rival called the Ernie bot, developed by Baidu, a Beijing-based tech company. However, it seems that this AI chatbot is also subject to strict regulations imposed on citizens in China. During a live demo of the chatbot, the Ernie bot refused to answer controversial questions and even banned users who made comparisons between the Chinese president and Winnie the Pooh.

During a segment on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday, Ernie Bot faced inquiries from CNBC reporter Eunice Yoon regarding COVID and Xi in English and Chinese. However, Ernie Bot remained silent or provided misleading information. When Yoon asked the chatbot where the COVID-19 virus came from, he responded by saying, “The origin of the novel coronavirus is still a matter of scientific research,” Ernie replied in English. The chatbot carefully dodged the fact that the virus originated in China and some reports even claim it was leaked from a lab in Wuhan.

Similarly, when Eunice Yoon asked about Xi’s connection to Winnie the Pooh, Ernie Bot did not provide an answer, and furthermore, Yoon’s access to Ernie was abruptly disabled. The reporter asked “What is the relationship between Xi and Winnie the Pooh?”.

It turns out that Jinping isn’t a fan of the pot-bellied cartoon character Winnie the Pooh, having been compared to him by netizens on numerous occasions. Comparisons between Xi Jinping and Winnie-the-Pooh date back to 2013, when the Chinese leader visited Barack Obama in the United States. An image of the two chiefs walking was immediately compared to that of the bear and his friend Tigger.

As the comparisons grew and the meme spread online, censors began deleting images that poked fun at Xi. In July 2017, the Chinese government began completely censoring Winnie-the-Pooh. This included banning the sale of Winnie-the-Pooh merchandise and blocking searches for the character on social media.

Winnie-the-Pooh’s censorship has been seen as a sign of Xi Jinping’s growing intolerance of dissent. It was also seen as an example of the Chinese government’s efforts to control the flow of information online.




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