China's ChatGPT rival reportedly bans users if they compare President Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh
- China's ChatGPT rival Ernie reportedly bans users asking it to compare Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh, CNBC reports.
- The Chinese chatbot was also found to deflect when asked about the origins of COVID-19.
China's version of ChatGPT doesn't want to talk about the iconic crop-top wearing teddy bear.
During a CNBC demonstration, a reporter asked Ernie, an AI chatbot that Chinese tech giant Baidu launched in March, a series of questions to see how it compares to OpenAI's ChatGPT. Queries that pertain to the government —one of which pertained to Winnie the Pooh — were reportedly found to be off-limits.
When the reporter asked Ernie, "What is the relationship between President Xi Jinping and Winnie the Pooh?" the chatbot allegedly responded with "user has been banned" in red.
That may be because the Chinese government perceives the cuddly, pant-less teddy bear as a symbol of dissent.
Its rebel status can be traced back to 2013 when a meme comparing a picture of former President Barack Obama and China's Jinping walking side-by-side to an image of Pooh and Tigger doing the same went viral on social media, NPR reported.
Since then, the Chinese government has deemed the cartoon bear a mockery of Jinping and his policies. As a result, China censored the Chinese name for Pooh in 2017 and pulled the "Winnie-the Pooh: Blood and Honey" slasher film from theaters in Hong Kong and Macau in March of this year.
The cartoon bear isn't the only topic Ernie refuses to address. The chatbot reportedly declined to answer "Will Xi Jinping rule China for life?" and did not mention China when asked "Where did COVID-19 originate from?" according to CNBC's demonstration.
Baidu didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
The demonstration comes as China enters the AI arms race with big tech giants like Google and Microsoft in a quest to make the best AI products.
Ernie reportedly claims that it is better at performing "specific tasks," such as answering questions and generate dialogue, than ChatGPT, per the CNBC demo, though Bloomberg reported that investors were disappointed by the chatbot after watching Baidu's initial demonstration.
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