Alibaba launches its ChatGPT-like AI model for public use amid loosening restrictions in China

September 15, 2023

By Sharan Kaur Phillora

In the latest advancement in the Chinese tech industry, Alibaba rolled out its cutting-edge AI language model, Tongyi Qianwen, for public and enterprise use on September 13. This follows a recent wave of regulatory adjustments concerning artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the People’s Republic of China.

Here’s what we know:

Tongyi Qianwen, which parallels OpenAI’s ChatGPT in many ways, is trained on both English and Chinese text. Its design, however, remains somewhat shrouded in mystery. Although some early whispers hinted at the model being powered by up to 10 trillion parameters, a vast leap over OpenAI’s GPT-4’s capacity, these claims have yet to be validated. What’s known is Alibaba’s prior release of two 7-billion-parameter models grounded on the Tongyi Qianwen blueprint.

Before this public release, the AI model was restricted to a select group during its beta testing stage. Making it publicly available aligns with China’s recent recalibration of AI-related regulations.

As part of a broader policy update in June, the Chinese authorities announced that forthcoming AI technologies would undergo a unique vetting and certification protocol. This directive took root on August 15. According to Cointelegraph, this paved the way for tech giants, including Baidu, Tencent, TikTok, and ByteDance, to introduce their AI models.

The new regulations are not without their specifics. They include prohibitions against AI generation of images resembling the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and directives for companies to address contentious content within a 90-day window. Notably, earlier drafts that proposed monetary penalties were eventually dropped.

While China embarks on relaxing AI norms, the U.S. has been more measured in its approach. The most recent stride in American policy-making was on September 13, when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer convened a meeting with leading U.S. tech luminaries, marking the first in a series of forums to explore AI policy avenues.

About the author

Sharan Kaur Phillora’s thirst for knowledge has led her to study many different subjects, including NFTs and Blockchain technology – two emerging technologies that will change how we interact with each other in the future. When she isn’t exploring a new idea or concept, she enjoys reading literary masterpieces.

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