Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has announced its own version of a chatbot assistant, called Tongyi Qianwen. The new product is expected to be rolled out in the near future and will be integrated with Alibaba’s vast ecosystem of tech businesses, including the workplace messaging app, DingTalk, and the voice assistant smart speaker, Tmall Genie.

Tongyi Qianwen will be able to communicate in both English and Mandarin, and its initial task scope will include turning conversations into written notes, writing emails, and drafting business proposals. Alibaba’s new product draws comparisons to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which was released in November 2022 and was later integrated into Microsoft’s internet browser, Bing.

Generative AI, like ChatGPT, has made global headlines due to its ability to provide sophisticated information responses in a casual chat-like manner, mimic different writing styles by command and ultimately help users create all kinds of texts, from academic research to movie scripts.

Notably, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Chinese tech behemoth, Baidu, have also announced their versions of AI chatbots, named Bard and Ernie, respectively.

Alibaba’s entry into the AI race with Tongyi Qianwen is significant as it further underscores the growing trend towards chatbots and AI assistants in the technology industry. However, the main intrigue surrounding Alibaba’s new product is whether Tongyi Qianwen could work on more creative tasks like its American counterpart, ChatGPT.

Moreover, Alibaba’s entry into the AI race also brings attention to the Cyberspace Administration of China’s guidelines for chatbot developers. According to article four of its guidelines, once made open for public feedback on April 11, such content should “reflect the core values of socialism, and must not contain subversion of state power.” The guidelines also require chatbot developers to ensure that AI-generated content is “accurate” and doesn’t “endanger security.”

In conclusion, Alibaba’s new product, Tongyi Qianwen, is another significant step in the AI race and highlights the growing trend towards chatbots and AI assistants in the technology industry. It will be interesting to see how Tongyi Qianwen compares to its American and Chinese counterparts in terms of functionality and creative capabilities. Additionally, as the use of AI and chatbots becomes more widespread, ensuring the accuracy and security of AI-generated content will continue to be an important issue for the technology industry and society as a whole.



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