Over the past week, major Chinese technology companies have revealed their plans to release ChatGPT-style products, joining the artificial intelligence arms race that the well-known chatbot has sparked.
“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,” Paul Triolo, the technology policy lead at consulting firm Albright Stonebridge, told CNBC.
American company OpenAI created ChatGPT. People can use the product to ask questions and get answers on a wide range of subjects. It is an illustration of generative AI, which can produce text-based or even visual responses after being trained on vast amounts of data.
Internet content is heavily regulated by Chinese authorities, who frequently censor or block websites with content that is unpopular in Beijing. Although ChatGPT is not formally prohibited in China, locals are unable to sign up for OpenAI there.
The fact that ChatGPT will address sensitive Chinese issues is probably of concern to Beijing’s leaders.
“ChatGPT poses some unique challenges for Beijing. The app, trained on western uncensored data, represents a more powerful type of search engine than Google or others that are also uncensored outside of China,” Triolo said, adding that he “would not be surprised” if the service was eventually blocked in the world’s second-largest economy.
ChatGPT’s response from China Some of China’s largest tech companies, including Baidu, Alibaba, JD.com, and NetEase, recently revealed their plans for competitors to ChatGPT. The introduction of new regulations covering topics like antitrust and data protection follows two years of intense scrutiny by Chinese regulators of the nation’s technology firms.
Chinese technology companies have had to adjust to a new regulatory environment, and their cautious announcements regarding their ChatGPT responses are a reflection of that reality.
Alibaba revealed that it is developing a technology similar to ChatGPT that could be incorporated into its cloud computing products via its cloud division. While stating that Youdao, a division of NetEase that specializes in education, has been working on generative AI, the company also stated that the technology may be incorporated into some of its educational products.
Chinese e-commerce company JD.com announced that it will launch ChatJD, a “industrial version” of ChatGPT with a focus on applications in the retail and finance sectors.
In an effort to strike a balance between investing in important technology and avoiding upsetting the political apple cart, the big firms have concentrated heavily on enterprise applications and have been very specific.
“In their responses, these tech giants face a dilemma: on the one hand they need to convince consumers and investors that they are not lagging behind in the development of the new technology,” Xin Sun, senior lecturer in Chinese and East Asian business at King’s College London, told CNBC via email.
“On the other hand, 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 (or even cause radical changes to the existing regulatory landscape).”
Given China’s distinct internet environment, such a balancing act may result in a usage of ChatGPT-style technology that differs from that of the United States.
China continues to place a high priority on the development of artificial intelligence as it competes with the United States in the technology sector.
Regulators have nonetheless made an effort to maintain control over how the technology is used. And that is the balance Beijing is currently attempting to achieve.
China unveiled a ground-breaking regulation last month on so-called deep synthesis technology, which creates artificially intelligent-based images, videos, or texts that are synthesized or altered. The increasingly potent Chinese Cyberspace Administration is in charge of enforcing the law.
The CAC also unveiled regulations last year that control how businesses use recommendation algorithms. Companies must submit information about their algorithms to the cyberspace regulator as one of the requirements.
Any ChatGPT-style technology could be subject to such rules.
“The ‘Deep Syntheses Tech’ regulation broadly covers the algorithms dealing with multiple-dimension of data and information. Together with the earlier CAC algorithm rule, it’s very likely that ChatGPT-like algorithms in China will need to be registered and supervised by the CAC,” Winston Ma, adjunct professor of law at the New York University School of Law, told CNBC via email.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)
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