After the sudden success of the first-of-its-kind AI tool, ChatGPT, a number of Chinese technology giants have announced plans to launch products in the ChatGPT style over the past week, joining the AI arms race started by the popular chatbot.
However, China’s biggest companies haven’t said in their announcements that they are working on all-encompassing platforms like ChatGPT, which could worry Beijing, which heavily censors internet content. Instead, businesses ranging from NetEase to Alibaba have discussed the technology in application-specific contexts.
CNBC was informed by Albright Stonebridge’s technology policy lead, Paul Triolo, that:
“Given all the regulatory focus on both tech platforms and AI algorithms over the past year by a range of government bodies, the big tech platforms are not eager to draw attention to themselves by putting out a chatbot/generative AI tool that gets them in hot water,” according to OpenAI, a U.S. company that created ChatGPT. People can use the product to ask and get answers to a wide range of questions. It is an illustration of generative AI, which can produce responses based on text or even images after being trained on a large amount of data.
Content on the internet is heavily regulated by the Chinese government, which frequently censors or blocks sites that do not agree with Beijing. Although OpenAI does not permit Chinese users to sign up, ChatGPT is not officially blocked in China.
The fact that ChatGPT will respond to questions about sensitive subjects in China probably worries the authorities in Beijing. Triolo declared:
“Beijing faces a number of unique difficulties with ChatGPT. “I would not be surprised if the service was eventually blocked in the world’s second-largest economy,” the statement reads. “The app represents a more powerful type of search engine than Google or others that are also uncensored outside of China.” The app was trained on uncensored data from Western countries.
In the past week, some of China’s largest technology companies, including Baidu, Alibaba, JD.com, and NetEase, have revealed their plans for ChatGPT rivals. It comes after two years of intense scrutiny by Chinese regulators of technology companies in the country, which resulted in the introduction of new antitrust and data protection regulations.
Chinese technology companies have had to adjust to a new regulatory environment, and their circumspect announcements regarding their ChatGPT responses reflect this reality.
Through its cloud division, Alibaba revealed that it is developing ChatGPT-like technology that could be incorporated into its cloud computing products. In the meantime, NetEase stated that Youdao, its education subsidiary, has been developing generative AI and that the technology may be incorporated into some of its educational products.
In an effort to strike a balance between investing in essential technology and attempting to avoid upsetting the political establishment, the major corporations have placed a strong emphasis on enterprise applications and been very specific.
By email, King’s College London senior lecturer in Chinese and East Asian business Xin Sun informed CNBC:
These tech giants face a dilemma in their responses: They must, on the one hand, persuade investors and customers that they are not behind in the development of the new technology.
However, “they also need to be extremely cautious to avoid being perceived by the government as developing new products, services, and business models that could raise new political and security concerns for the party-state”
Due to China’s unique internet landscape, the application of ChatGPT technology may differ from that in the United States as a result of this balance. As China continues its technology competition with the United States, the development of artificial intelligence is a top priority for the country. Last month, China introduced the first-ever regulation on so-called deep synthesis technology, which is artificially generated or altered images, videos, or text. The increasingly powerful Cyberspace Administration of China is in charge of the regulation.
CNBC received an email from Winston Ma, an adjunct law professor at the New York University School of Law.