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China's Baidu to launch ChatGPT-style bot in March: source

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BEIJING -

Chinese internet search major Baidu Inc is planning to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot service similar to OpenAI's ChatGPT in March, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The technology firm plans to launch the service as a standalone application and gradually merge it into its search engine, said the person, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential.

ChatGPT's technology works by learning from vast amounts of data how to answer prompts by users in a human-like manner, offering information like a search engine or even prose like an aspiring novelist.

Chatbots in China currently focus on social interaction whereas ChatGPT performs better at more professional tasks, such as programming and essay writing.

Baidu plans to incorporate chatbot-generated results when users make search requests, instead of only links, the person said.

Baidu declined to comment.

Microsoft Corp has a US$1 billion investment in San Francisco-based OpenAI that it has looked at increasing, Reuters has reported. The company has also worked to add OpenAI's image-generation software to its Bing search engine in a new challenge to Alphabet Inc's Google.

Beijing-based Baidu has been investing heavily in AI technology, including in cloud services, chips and autonomous driving, as it looks to diversify its revenue sources.

At a developer conference last month, Baidu unveiled three AI-powered "creators" whose technology allows them to assume the roles of screenwriter, illustrator, editor or animator.

(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang and Jyoti Narayan; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil and Christopher Cushing)

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