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Chinese firm enters AI arms race with ChatGPT-like model

Alibaba is the latest Chinese tech giant to announce its ChatGPT-like AI model.

Tongyi Qianwen, which means “truth from a thousand question”, will be added as an app to existing apps of the firm, including voice assistant and workplace messaging.

The chatbot, similar to OpenAI’s GPT technology that has been added from Microsoft’s Bing travel planner Expedia to websites, will be available to clients to use in their products and services.

It was demonstrated by video.


Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang stated that it would “reveal big changes in the way that we produce, work and live our lives”.

This follows the launch of similar technology by Chinese search giant Baidu. It was demonstrated to be able to understand different languages, answer questions and calculate maths, as well as generate images.

These releases, including Google’s Bard, are all known as large-language models. They are trained using a huge amount of text data to generate and summarise information, and conduct realistic conversations.

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OpenAI’s GPT model has been a huge success. It was recently updated to increase the chatbots understanding and completion of tasks. This has led to an AI arms race around the globe.

Baidu and Alibaba’s China releases are matched by similar products from media giant Tencent, gaming firm NetEase and e-commerce platforms.

China’s government published draft rules that outline how these generative AI services should operate, including the requirement that they adhere to core socialist values.

This is a sign that tech will need to follow the same strict restrictions as the rest.

According to the draft rules of the Cyberspace Administration in the country, they should also protect user data or face criminal investigations and possible fines.

Analyst Charlie Chai stated that the rules could slow progress in the AI space, “in exchange for an orderly and more socially responsible technology deployment”.

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It is the result of Elon Musk joining a group AI experts to call for a pause on the training of generative AI.

The Future of Life Institute issued the letter and more than 1000 people signed it. It warned that AI systems with human-competitive Intelligence could pose grave risks to society as well as humanity.

Italy was the first country that outright banned ChatGPT in March. The country’s data protection officials investigated the collection of user information.

Italian authorities stated that the bot, which has more than 100,000,000 monthly users, would be blocked until an investigation is completed into the suspected breach of its data collection rules as well as a failure to verify the age of its users.

Europol, the EU law enforcement agency, warned ChatGPT could be used to spread disinformation and was also warned by ChatGPT.

ChatGPT has been restricted at schools in New York City and Japanese universities, due to concerns that students might use it for writing assignments.


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