Chinese tech giant Alibaba will reportedly launch its large-scale model next week at the Alibaba Cloud Summit on April 11 in Beijing, with an industry application model expected to follow on April 18. A source at the firm’s cloud unit confirmed to TechNode that the summit is scheduled for April 11, but declined to say whether it would debut a ChatGPT rival at the event.

Why it matters: As one of the biggest companies in China, Alibaba’s move to introduce a ChatGPT-like product would further increase the buzz around AI chatbot technology in the country, following search giant Baidu’s release of chatbot service ERNIEBot and an enterprise-facing large model platform last month. Alibaba has a wide range of businesses that could use AI and has been investing in cloud computing infrastructure since 2009.

Details: In February, Alibaba said it was working on a ChatGPT-style tool and that it was undergoing internal testing.

  • In a sign of the summit’s significance, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang, who also oversees the group’s cloud computing unit, will attend the event along with Alibaba Cloud’s chief technology officer Zhou Jingren and president of Alibaba Cloud Global Sales Cai Yinghua.
  • The summit comprises one main and multiple sub-forums, as described on its official website, with three keynote speeches and a series of yet unspecified major announcements aimed at showcasing cutting-edge computing, data, and intelligent technologies, as well as the acceleration of industrial innovation. 
  • On Tuesday, Niaoniao, a Chinese stand-up comedian, shared a video which she claimed showed pre-trained big model developed by Alibaba that had cloned her voice. The AI-generated voice was seen being used by Alibaba’s voice assistant TmallGenie, answering common questions in a way that closely imitated the woman’s speaking style. Niaoniao claimed that Alibaba’s research institute DAMO Academy trained the voice using about an hour of her recordings over a week.
  • Alibaba has already integrated the large-scale model into various product lines across the company and tested it internally, Zhejiang Daily reported on Tuesday, citing an employee who claimed the results were “impressive”.

Context: The popularity of ChatGPT has spurred tech majors and AI entrepreneurs in China into action. A number of Chinese AI experts have recently left roles at China’s tech majors, including JD, Alibaba, and ByteDance, to form new AI enterprises amid the continued hype around ChatGPT. Former Google China head Kai-Fu Lee and Meituan co-founder Wang Huiwen have also launched separate AI-focused businesses.

  • Baidu debuted its AI-powered chatbot service ERNIE Bot on March 16, becoming the first Chinese tech company to offer a rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. However, only people with an invitation code currently have access to the tool. The search giant has seen its Nasdaq-listed shares rise by 21.7% this year.
  • China’s telecommunication giant Huawei is set to introduce its Pangu pre-trained large-scale model in the near future, local media outlet IThome reported on Tuesday, which include NLP (Natural Language Processing), CV (Computer Vision), and Scientific Computing models. 
Cheyenne Dong

Cheyenne Dong

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, blockchain, and Web3. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]