Alibaba's cloud computing division has become the first Chinese enterprise to support Meta's open-source artificial intelligence (AI) model Llama, according to a statement published on its WeChat account, reports Reuters. This move allows Chinese business users to develop programs using the model.
Meta recently released Llama2, a commercial version of Llama, which they now plan to bring to smartphones using Qualcomm's Snapdragon AI Engine. The model provides businesses with a powerful alternative to costly proprietary models sold by OpenAI and Google. Despite Microsoft being Meta's preferred partner for Llama2, the model is also available through other partners, including Alibaba.
Alibaba's AI Ambitions Amidst Market Competition
The collaboration with Meta could attract long-term customers for Alibaba's cloud business, which is currently facing increased competition domestically and is planning a stock market listing. The adoption of Llama2 allows Alibaba to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in AI technology, a field where the U.S. has been actively restricting Chinese companies' access to many U.S.-developed technologies.
Tongyi Qianwen and Tongyi Wanxiang AI Models
In addition to adopting Llama2, Alibaba has been actively developing its own AI models. Earlier this year, the company announced the launch of its AI chatbot, Tongyi Qianwen, which is designed to rival OpenAI's powerful ChatGPT. The chatbot is currently open for testing by invitation only to some corporate customers.
Furthermore, Alibaba Cloud recently launched Tongyi Wanxiang, a text-based AI image generator similar to DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion. The tool, currently available for enterprise customers in China for beta testing, uses a generative AI model that responds to text prompts in both Chinese and English to generate detailed images in a variety of styles.
AI in China: A Race Against Time
China has been striving to catch up with the U.S. in the field of AI. Beijing encourages Chinese companies to quickly develop homegrown and “controllable” AI models that can rival those developed by U.S. companies. With the adoption of Llama2 and the development of its own AI models, Alibaba is positioning itself as a key player in this rapidly evolving field.
The AI race between the U.S. and China continues to heat up, with both nations striving to gain the upper hand in this transformative technology. The U.S. is considering imposing new restrictions on AI chip exports to China, a move that could potentially slow down China's progress in AI development.
However, Chinese tech companies are not sitting idle. Baidu, China's leading search engine and AI company, has developed a new version of its ErnieAI chatbot, Ernie 3.5, which reportedly outperforms OpenAI's ChatGPT in generating more natural and engaging conversations in both Chinese and English. Baidu plans to release Ernie 3.5 as an open-source project and integrate it into its own products and services.
Moreover, Wang Huiwen, co-founder of Meituan, one of China's largest e-commerce platforms, is planning to create a chinese counterpart to OpenAI. He believes that China can deliver AI products as functional as the popular ChatGPT, further fueling the competition in the AI field.