Chinese Tech Giants Baidu and SenseTime Launch AI Chatbots Amid Growing Competition with US
Chinese tech giants Baidu and SenseTime have unveiled their artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots to the public following government approval, as China seeks to expand the use of AI tools amidst increasing competition with the United States. Baidu, the leading online search provider in China, announced that its chatbot, Ernie Bot, is now fully accessible to the public. SenseTime also revealed that its chatbot, SenseChat, is now fully available to serve all users. In addition to Baidu and SenseTime, two AI startups, Baichuan Intelligent Technology and Zhipu AI, announced similar public launches of their chatbots.
The news of these launches prompted a rise in the shares of Baidu and SenseTime in early Hong Kong trade, with both companies experiencing gains of 3.1% and 2.7% respectively, despite a broader market decline of 0.4 percent.
China differs from other countries in that it requires companies to undergo security assessments and obtain clearance before releasing mass-market AI products. Recently, Chinese authorities have intensified efforts to support AI development in response to increasing competition with the US. Reports from Chinese media suggest that a total of 11 companies, including ByteDance (owner of TikTok) and Tencent Holdings, have received government approval for their AI projects.
Alibaba’s approval status remains unclear as of now, but an Alibaba Cloud spokesperson stated that the company has completed the necessary filings for its AI model, Tongyi Qianwen, which is awaiting an official launch. The spokesperson added that the company expects regulators to release a list of approved companies in the coming week.
Being the first to market in China is crucial in the fiercely competitive internet industry of the country. Baidu’s Ernie Bot already secured the top spot in the free app category on Apple’s App Store in China following its launch. Analysts believe that the approved companies have an advantage in terms of fine-tuning their products faster than their competitors.
OpenAI’s ChatGPT-maker, backed by Microsoft, is projected to generate over $1 billion in revenue over the next 12 months, according to a report from tech publication The Information.
These approvals were widely anticipated after China introduced interim rules governing the regulation of generative AI products for public use on August 15. Prior to the new rules, companies were only allowed to conduct small-scale public tests of their AI products. However, with the updated regulations, companies can now widen their product tests, introduce additional features, and engage in more marketing activities. Notably, government approval is not required for products targeting businesses.
Some analysts suggest that the government’s approval of AI products could lead to industry consolidation, as only companies with data and strong technological capabilities will be able to thrive in the market.
In conclusion, Chinese tech giants Baidu and SenseTime have launched their AI chatbots to the public after receiving government approval. These launches signify China’s commitment to advancing AI technology in the face of growing competition from the United States. The industry will likely experience further consolidation as companies strive to establish themselves as leaders in the AI market.