China’s e-commerce giant JD on Thursday introduced its own large AI model ChatRhino during the JD Discovery tech summit. Positioned as a vertical AI model that offers industry-specific use cases, JD’s AI offering arrives a few months later than rivals Alibaba and Baidu.

Why it matters: JD is the latest Chinese tech major attempting to upgrade its offerings with AI and large models. The company said ChatRhino combines 70% generalized data and 30% native intelligent supply chain data, targeting a number of sectors including retail, finance, education, and government. 

  • “Large models shouldn’t just be limited to toys for chatting, writing poetry, or painting,” Cao Peng, chair of JD’s technology committee and president of JD Cloud, said at the launch event.

Details: CEO Sandy Xu, who took office in May, emphasized at the summit that ChatRhino has shown “clear practical results” within JD. The company has already utilized the AI model to enhance customer service, facilitate code writing, and improve product recommendations, she added.

  • JD plans to expand its large AI model (also known as large language model, LLM) capacities for commercial applications to corporate clients in early 2024.
  • JD’s healthcare unit also unveiled a specialized model called Jingyi Qianxun based on ChatRhino on the same day, the name of which means asking doctors thousands of times in Chinese. The model, designed for the medical industry, is capable of “quickly adapting and learning from various healthcare scenarios,” which will serve as a technological foundation for remote medical services, according to the company’s description.
  • The e-commerce giant also showcased its ambition to develop humanoid robots, which will be a key exploration direction for the JD Explore Academy. In a pre-recorded video presented at the launch event, a robotic arm seamlessly poured a glass of water for He Xiaodong, director of the Academy, in response to his prompt.
  • He Xiaodong also stated that while JD has been making technological preparations in AI for several years, the introduction of their own large model was delayed as the company prefers to focus more on industry-focused, specialized models rather than a general-purpose model. 

Context: Beijing currently is home to approximately half of the more than 80 large models available in China, according to Jiang Guangzhi, the director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology, who delivered a speech at the Global Digital Economy Conference held in Beijing earlier this month.

  • With the rising trend of large model development kicked off by OpenAI last November, Chinese authorities are actively encouraging innovation in generative artificial intelligence while also formulating detailed regulations to ensure that ChatGPT-style services operate under oversight.

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]