Chinese technology and e-commerce company, Alibaba, has joined the list of companies to enter the artificial intelligence (AI) race, having created an AI model named Tongyi Qianwen for mass markets.
As of Wednesday, 13th September, Alibaba has received approval from Chinese regulatory bodies to release the model to the public. This is part of efforts from Chinese authorities to support the development of AI technologies due to the country’s growing competition with the US.
The Tongyi Qianwen AI model was first revealed in April, with Alibaba pitting it against OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The company also revealed that the model would be integrated into all business applications.
Newly installed Alibaba Group CEO, Eddie Wu, who replaced former CEO, Daniel Zhang, on Sunday, 9th September, announced on Tuesday that the tech giant’s main priorities would be “user first,” and “AI driven”.
Wu also stated that Alibaba would focus on supporting and promoting young employees, specifically those below forty. This approach, Wu noted, would help the company’s ideas stay fresh, and also prevent it from falling behind.
Alibaba’s AI model has created a spark among technology-based institutions who also want to develop their own models. The company’s Cloud Intelligence Division has reported that OPPO, Taobao, DingTalk, and Zhejiang University are among the tech organisations interested on training their own models based on Tongyi Qianwen.
While Tongyi Qianwen is currently a paid model, Alibaba has stated that an open-source version of the model will soon become available for free. The AI model is handled by Alibaba’s Cloud Intelligence group, which is valued at over $50 billion despite the company’s stocks falling by 4% after Daniel Zhang’s exit.
Wu, in a letter to the Alibaba staff, noted that “over the next decade, the most significant change agent will be the disruptions bought about by AI across all sectors. If we don’t keep up with the changes of the AI era, we will be displaced.”
Other Companies in the AI Race.
Besides OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Alibaba will be facing competition from the likes of Google’s Bard and Meta’s Llama 2 AI models. In July, Apple also announced its intentions to develop its own framework dubbed, Ajax, alongside a large language AI model that some have referred to as AppleGPT.