China Tech Giant Alibaba Announces ChatGPT Rival


Since the global success of ChatGPT, companies all around the world have been scrambling to get their chatbot contestant into the pile whilst AI demand and investment is high and the market not too saturated.

ChatGPT was released in November 2022 and, since this point, there has been a palpable feeling of excitement and novelty over how AI chatbots are changing the business and technology landscape. But as time goes on and these bots become more and more integrated into society, it doesn’t seem long before we can expect this wave of eagerness towards AI chatbots to wear off.

It seems as though companies across the globe are trying to take advantage of this current demand and strike while the iron’s hot to get their chatbot onto the scene, and Chinese technology giant Alibaba has just announced its plans to be the latest to enter this race, says the BBC.


What’s Happening In The AI Chatbot Market


These days, it seems like a new chatbot is being released daily. Several companies have tried to rival the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, namely Microsoft with Bing, Google with Bard and Meta with Galactica.

But not only have some of the biggest names in tech released their own chatbots, but several other companies have also tried their hand at debuting a bot too.

Recently, Forbes released a list of its top chatbot picks for April 2023. This includes the publication’s recently released favourites, including Drift, Intercom, Genesys DX and HubSpot Chatbot Builder.

Besides giving its readers a comprehensive list of some of the best chatbots around right now, this list also works to display just how many chatbots are currently entering the market.

In terms of the public’s winning favourite, it seems that ChatGPT continues to reign on high due to its exceptional performance, sophistication, versatility and free availability. Records show that it reached 100 million users just two months after its launch – a figure which has only grown in the months since.

As ChatGPT maintains such a dominant authority in the market and so many other chatbots are being released all the time, it is becoming clear that the clock is ticking down to an increasingly saturated market. It’s game on for all the other companies vying for a piece of the AI-powered chatbot game.

One such company is the Chinese technology giant Alibaba. Since the successes of bots such as ChatGPT, Google Bard and Microsoft Bing, Chinese entrepreneurs have been racing to match their American counterparts in what has been called a tech Cold War. Technology company Baidu even tried to roll out a ChatGPT equivalent. Alibaba’s attempt will be the latest from the country to influence the chatbot market.


A Look At The Alibaba Chatbot


On April 11th, Chinese tech giant Alibaba unveiled its latest AI effort – its large language model Tongyi Qianwen, meaning “truth from a thousand questions”.

A large language model is a type of AI algorithm which uses masses of data and learning techniques to understand, summarise and generate new content. Examples of these models include bots like ChatGPT which can be used to converse with, ask questions and predict information.

Alibaba plans initially to integrate Tongyi Qianwen, capable of working in both English and Chinese, across the firm’s businesses to improve their user experience. This will be achieved by adding Tongyi Qianwen to DingTalk, Alibaba’s workplace messaging app.

Here, the chatbot will perform a number of tasks including turning conversations in meetings into written notes, writing emails and drafting business proposals.

In the future, Alibaba says that Tongyi Qianwen will also be put into the hands of the public by integrating it into Tmall Genie – the company’s smart speaker which works in a similar way to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

In a demonstration of Tongyi Qianwen, the chatbot showed that it was able to draft invitation letters, plan trip itineraries, and even advise shoppers on types of makeup to buy.

As users have yet to see or try Alibaba’s full suite of products, it is still too early to say how robust these services are. Nevertheless, the company’s decision to create a chatbot to help with its operations reflects how AI is altering how businesses will operate in the future.

In reference to the role of AI in the future of Alibaba, and in the future of all businesses, Alibaba’s chairman and chief executive Daniel Zhang says, “We are at a technological watershed moment driven by generative AI and cloud computing, and businesses across all sectors have started to embrace intelligence transformation to stay ahead of the game.”

AI technology “will bring about big changes to the way we produce, the way we work, and the way we live our lives”, he continued.

How China’s Cyberspace Regulations Will Affect AI Chatbots


On the same day that Alibaba announced its new AI plans, this was swiftly followed by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC)  unveiling a new list of draft measures that they will be putting in place to regulate how generative AI is used by tech companies.

Although the Chinese government have said that they support technology innovation and popularisation, they have made it clear that the content generated must adhere to “core socialist values” as well as laws on data security and personal information protection.

Those who fail to adhere to the rules could face fines or criminal investigations.

The newest set of rules released on Tuesday is relatively unsurprising, lining up with previous regulations introduced to regulate other aspects of AI.

The proposed rules, which are open for public comment until May 10th, reinforce that businesses should make sure that their products uphold Chinese socialist values, and do not generate content that suggests regime subversion, violence or pornography, or disrupts economic or social order.

The new rules will also set up obstacles for foreign companies looking to provide AI services in the country in order to benefit domestic companies. Perhaps most notably, the rules also state that generative AI products will also need to pass a government security assessment before being introduced to the public.

The CAC releasing new AI regulations on the same day that Alibaba had unveiled plans to deliver a new chatbot suggests that the Chinese government is concerned over how businesses are planning to use generative AI in the future.

In order to be a success, Alibaba must not only ensure that Tongyi Qianwen displays an impressive array of technological abilities, but also that it strictly adheres to all domestic government guidelines. Only this will ensure the success of the chatbot in both the Chinese and global technology markets.