China is intensifying its efforts in artificial intelligence, recently approving 14 Large Language Models (LLMs) for public use, signaling a burgeoning AI gold rush within the country. Overall the Chinese government has approved more than 40 AI models in the past six months.
Since it began this process Baidu, often likened to “China’s Google,” is at the forefront with its ChatGPT competitor, Ernie Bot, boasting over 100 million users and claiming parity with OpenAI’s GPT-4. The competitive landscape includes major firms like Huawei, Xiaomi, and Bytedance, each developing proprietary AI technologies. Bytedance’s AI ambitions have stirred controversy, particularly with its AI voice converter poised for potential misuse.
In China, AI development encounters unique hurdles, including stringent government regulations mandating adherence to socialist values and avoidance of politically sensitive topics. This has led to AI models evading or reframing responses to certain inquiries, notably regarding Taiwan’s status. In response, Taiwan has initiated its own AI project, Taide, aiming for a model devoid of Chinese political bias.
The US’s restrictions on exporting advanced semiconductors to China represent a significant obstacle, potentially impeding Chinese companies’ capabilities to develop sophisticated AI models. These geopolitical tensions underscore the complexities facing China’s ambition to emerge as an AI powerhouse amidst a global tech rivalry.