MOSS, a ChatGPT-style chatbot platform developed by Fudan University’s Natural Language Processing Lab, crashed a day after its launch on Monday due to high demand, forcing the lab to set up an invitation-only waitlist to use the AI tool.

The model, similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, was named MOSS after a quantum computer in the hit Chinese science fiction film Wandering Earth. Rolled out on Monday, MOSS was seen as ChatGPT’s first Chinese rival, but its server crash means it will no longer be directly available to the general public. 

The team at Fudan University apologized for disappointing users of the experimental software, issuing a statement on the chatbot platform that read, “MOSS is still a very immature model and has a long way to go. Our academic research lab is unable to make a model with similar capabilities to ChatGPT.” 

Why it matters: Amid a wave of excitement in the Chinese tech sphere around ChatGPT, MOSS’s overwhelmed server illustrates the technical and modeling challenges that Chinese research teams and tech companies will need to overcome before they can successfully develop and operate their own ChatGPT-like tools.

  • MOSS has followed in the footsteps of ChatGPT almost entirely, a core member of the Fudan University team Zhang Qi told local media outlet Yicai. Zhang stated that gathering real data from users to enhance the model and assist in subsequent research was the team’s main incentive for opening MOSS to the public.  

Details: MOSS is able to perform a variety of natural language tasks based on user instructions, ranging from answering questions to text generation and summarization, as well as code reviewing and generation, according to examples posted by the Fudan MOSS team on GitHub.

  • ChatGPT has up to 175 billion parameters, while MOSS has only 16 billion.
  • Currently, MOSS performs better in English than Chinese because its model base has learned over 300 billion English words, and only about 30 billion Chinese words, The Paper reported on Tuesday, citing the research team.
  • The Fudan team is set to make MOSS’s code and model parameters open-source after their initial validation is completed, and said on Github that this could be as soon as March. 

Context: At least ten Chinese tech companies are competing to develop large-scale conversational language models like the ChatGPT, but none have launched products yet. Baidu’s ERNIE Bot is expected to launch as soon as March.

  • ChatGPT is estimated to have reached 100 million monthly active users in January, and is said to have crashed its servers several times in its first week due to mass user demand.

READ MORE: Alibaba, Baidu, NetEase, iFlytek…Chinese companies rushing to prove they have tech similar to ChatGPT

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, AI, and blockchain. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]