Meet China’s Answer to OpenAI’s ChatGPT: Tongyi Qianwen

ODSC - Open Data Science
2 min readJun 30, 2023

Late last month, Alibaba rolled out its own ChatGPT-style large language model as the Chinese government hopes to shore up its own artificial intelligence technology. It’s no secret that OpenAI’s ChatGPT is banned in mainland China. But what many don’t know is that the government is already hoping to get ahead on the AI front with a series of new AI-focused laws over the last few months.

Back in April, CNBC reported that Alibaba rolled out Tongyi Qianwen, their answer to ChatGPT. Much like OpenAI’s LLM and other LLMs, Tongyi Qianwen is trained in large amounts of data to generate content. Now according to Alibaba, Tongyi Qianwen will be integrated into a digital assistant called Tingwu.

Similar to what Microsoft is doing with the Windows operating system, the AI-powered assistant will be able to analyze multimedia content and generate a text summary from video and audio files, according to Alibaba.

In a press release, Jingren Zhou, CTO of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence stated, “We live at a time when a growing amount of video and audio content is being consumed in various formats every day. In line with this, Tongyi Tingwu aims to use the large language model to facilitate faster and better comprehension and easier sharing of multimedia content.”

Speaking to CNBC, Alibaba said that the company will also be working with their corporate cloud customers to build tailored AI-Powered products based on their LLM. As mentioned above, one thing that is to note in China’s moves into AI is how the government is approaching AI regulation.

Unlike in the United States, or the EU, to a degree, AI companies have greater regulatory hurdles to face when compared to their non-Chinese counterparts. But this move in the generative AI space isn’t a shock. The Chinese government clearly is interested in the technology.

Here’s a quick report by Reuters about Tongyi Qianwen roll out:

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