Censorship and Chip War Challenging Chinese Tech Giants' Chatbot Space

Censorship and Jeep War Challenging Tech Giants in Chatbot Space
Censorship and Jeep War Challenging Tech Giants in Chatbot Space

While US restrictions and pressures on chip imports have undermined China's AI ambitions, search engine Baidu's unsuccessful launch of the chatbot has exposed weaknesses in the country's battle to challenge ChatGPT.

The debut of the highly anticipated "Ernie Bot" was limited to a pre-recorded teaser last week, asking uncomplicated questions like summarizing the story of a sci-fi novel and solving a simple algebraic equation, while at the same time trying to avoid political and factual wrong answers. It was already chosen accordingly in the questions.

None of the wide range of services that Baidu initially promised Ernie Bot could perform, from cloud computing to autonomous driving, were showcased.

Shares of the company fell as much as 10% at the time of the announcement, but rose the next day after positive feedback from brokerages like Citigroup, whose analysts were among a select group invited to test the bot.

Since San Francisco-based OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November, a number of Chinese companies, including Alibaba, JD.com, Netease, and TikTok's parent company Bytedance, have rushed to develop systems that can mimic human speech.

As part of its efforts to catch up, Google on Tuesday sent out an invitation to Americans and Brits to test the AI ​​chatbot Bard.

ChatGPT's success in China, where users have to use virtual private networks (VPNs) and foreign phone numbers to bypass Beijing's internet firewall, has forced Baidu and other companies to scramble to reclaim their dominance in their home countries.

“OpenAI probably spent as much time testing GPT-4 as Baidu spent creating the Ernie Bot,” said Matt Sheehan, a researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Funding open-ended research without a clear path to profitability is not a tradition in China's tech ecosystem.”

Targeting the Chinese market with over one billion internet users, Ernie Bot can speak fluently in Mandarin as well as other regional languages ​​such as Hakka used in Southern China and Taiwan.

Beijing's ruthless regulation of anything perceived to be in opposition to the Communist Party is causing problems for developers. The cartoon bear Winnie-the-Pooh was once banned after being associated with Xi Jinping.

One of the top-performing public ChatGPT-style models of Tsinghua University in Beijing, when asked if the president of the last decade was a "good leader," replied, "Input may contain ethical information. Please try again with another entry.

Lauren Hurcombe, a technology lawyer at DLA Piper, told AFP that companies in China have "significantly fewer data sources for educational purposes than their Western competitors" due to severe internet regulations.

The public has yet to use the Ernie Bot.

China has set bold goals to lead the world in artificial intelligence by 2030, and consulting firm McKinsey believes the industry could increase the country's GDP by about $600 billion a year by then.

According to McKinsey, much of the growth will come from the development of autonomous cars, increasing the number of robots on assembly lines and medical advances. The government has also used artificial intelligence to power its mass surveillance program.

Washington has taken action to curb China's technological ambitions and has restricted its access to advanced chips, chip manufacturing machines and semiconductor design software through sanctions.

Because of this, it has become harder for Chinese businesses to purchase processors from Nvidia, such as the A100 and H100, which are considered the industry standard for massively parallel AI training systems.

Hurcombe said it was "really controversial" whether a domestic supply could be produced in the near future.

How big is the artificial intelligence gap?

But it will take time for US restrictions to take effect, as Chinese firms rushed to stockpile expensive chips before Washington announced export controls in October.

The company claims it can mass-produce a seven-nanometer chip, used in part to power Baidu's AI systems, through its own chip design division, Kunlun.

During an interview with investors in November, Dou Shen, head of Baidu's AI Cloud division, dismissed questions about the impact of the restrictions in the US, saying: “We think the impact will be quite limited in the near future.”

China has long boasted of filing more patents on artificial intelligence than the United States.

However, according to Stanford University's AI Index 2022 assessment, China lagged behind the US and other developing countries in 2020 and 2021 in the average number of patent citations, a sign of the importance and originality of its ideas.

According to the report, the United States poured three times more private investment into the industry in 2021 and had twice as many AI companies as China.

The top-down strategy used by the Chinese government to promote innovation has not been successful.

Two years ago, the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence, founded in 2018, released a product similar to ChatGPT.

With 1,75 trillion parameters, Wu Dao is much larger than the 3 billion parameters of OpenAI's previous GPT-175 model and has been called the "world's largest" artificial intelligence language model by its developers. However, it was never really popular.

Source: techxplore




Günceleme: 22/03/2023 14:28

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