Beijing green lights local ChatGPT rivals and other AI applications alike
- Local authorities in Beijing pledge to support enterprises looking to rival the success of ChatGPT creator OpenAI.
- As of October last year, Beijing was home to 1,048 “core AI companies,” making up more than one-third of the total number of AI firms in China.
- The city has attracted more than 40,000 AI talents, which is more than 60% of the country’s total talent in the field.
Over the last decade, China has grown to be an indisputable leader in the artificial intelligence (AI) field. As of October last year, its sprawling capital city houses 1,048 “core AI companies”, making up more than one-third of the total number of such firms in the country. There are more than 40,000 AI talents in the city, and according to a paper released recently, the number accounts for more than 60% of the country’s total talent in the field.
The white paper, published by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology, stated that the capital city has been among the top Chinese cities in published AI papers and in the number of state-level AI open innovation platforms. For context, 10 out of 24 platforms are within Beijing itself. Beijing also has 30 of the top 100 institutions in the world regarding the number of patents granted.
Even the world’s largest pre-trained AI model comes from Beijing. WuDao 2.0, developed by the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence, is recognized with 1.75 trillion parameters to simulate conversational speech, write poems, understand images, and even generate recipes. The academy runs a research facility backed by the Beijing municipal government and the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“Focusing on accelerating the construction of AI innovative applications, Beijing has actively explored new models and paths for the development of the AI industry and made remarkable progress in scientific and technological innovation, integrated application, ecological environment construction, and institutional innovation,” according to an official from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology.
Given Beijing’s feat in the field, the white paper says that the government will “support leading enterprises to create a large model that is benchmarked against ChatGPT, build an open-source framework, and form a breakthrough in the development of the artificial intelligence industry.” The paper also states that local government agencies are increasingly opening up data sources for use toward such aims, including in the fields of public service guides, finance, taxation, and urban management.
China’s attempt at ChatGPT
Chinese authorities are known to have heavy control over internet content, often blocking sites or censoring content that does not sit well with Beijing. To the surprise of many, ChatGPT is not officially blocked in China. However, OpenAI does not allow users in the country to sign up. Nevertheless, over the past two weeks, Chinese technology giants have announced their intentions to launch ChatGPT-style products, joining the AI arms race sparked by the popular chatbot.
Some of China’s biggest tech firms that have announced their plans to develop their own versions of ChatGPT include Baidu, Alibaba, JD.com, and NetEase. Most of these tech giants are expected to rollout preview versions of the technology in March this year.
It will be interesting to see how exactly the technology develops in China given that over the last two years, there has been intense scrutiny from Chinese regulators on the country’s technology firms, which has seen the introduction of new regulations covering issues such as antitrust and data protection.
While the green light from authorities in Beijing promises China’s position in the global arms race, it doesn’t guarantee a scrutiny-free journey for the local firms that would embark on their own ChatGPT-like journey.