By Yifan Wang and Bingyan Wang
Shares of Baidu Inc. surged in Hong Kong on Tuesday as investors welcomed the Chinese internet giant’s plan to launch an artificial-intelligence chatbot next month amid an intensifying AI race in the technology industry.
The stock gained as much as 16% to 162.90 Hong Kong dollars (US$20.76), putting it on track for its biggest percentage gain in nearly a year.
Baidu on Tuesday confirmed it is internally testing an AI chatbot, called Ernie Bot, and expects to launch the product to the public in March. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that the company is developing an AI-powered chatbot, citing people familiar with the matter.
Investors’ excitement about the business potential of AI chat services has grown since ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, quickly gained popularity and users. Shares of Baidu, one of China’s leaders in AI tech, have climbed 44% so far in 2023, driven in part by such optimism.
Baidu’s plan came amid a flurry of similar moves by global tech giants as companies rush to capture market share and commercialization opportunities in the field of conversational AI services.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google this week said it is rolling out a new chatbot service, called Bard, for testing and plans a broader public launch in the coming weeks. Microsoft Corp. last month said it is making a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI.
Write to Yifan Wang at [email protected] and Bingyan Wang at [email protected]