Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce and technology giant, has launched Tongyi Qianwen. This generative AI model operates in English and Chinese, allowing users and developers to create customized AI functions. The company plans to roll out this model across a range of Alibaba products, from communication apps like Slack to smart home speakers.
While US companies such as OpenAI, Google, and Meta have trained their AI models using the universal English language, Alibaba’s Tongyi Qianwen offers services in both English and Chinese, making it a potential alternative OpenAI product for Chinese users.
Chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group and CEO of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, Daniel Zhang stated that the model still lags behind OpenAI regarding image recognition and text-to-image conversion. Still, the company expects it to be more cost-effective than its competitors.
Alibaba has already integrated natural language into two apps: DingTalk, a Slack-like workplace chat app, and Tmall Genie, its premium online retail smart voice assistant. In a pre-recorded demo, the company demonstrated how DingTalk uses the synonym Qianwen to summarize chat histories, write meeting minutes, and turn handwritten charts into miniatures.
Alibaba’s move into generative AI comes when Chinese regulators increase their technology oversight. On the same day that Alibaba announced Tongyi Qianwen, China’s internet watchdog announced measures to regulate how tech companies use generative AI models to serve users. These measures would require AI service providers to register their algorithms with internet authorities, verify users’ identities, and keep records of data inputs such as AI prompts.
While users have not yet tried Alibaba’s AI-powered offerings, the company’s move into generative AI and cloud computing is a significant step in the market.