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Alibaba launches its ChatGPT-like AI model for public use amid loosening restrictions in China

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Alibaba announced that its proprietary large language model, an artificial intelligence system called Tongyi Qianwen, will be available for public and enterprise access throughout China starting Sept. 13. 

Tongyi Qianwen is a ChatGPT-like large language model trained on a corpus of English and Chinese text. While its exact specifications aren’t known — early rumors indicated it would be trained with as many as 10-trillion parameters, 10 times many as OpenAI’s GPT4, but these remain unsubstantiated — Alibaba previously released two 7-billion parameter models based on the Tongyi Qianwen architecture to open source.

Previously, Tongyi Qianwen had only been available to a limited group of users during its beta test phase. The public rollout coincides with a recent loosening of restrictions related to the use of artificial intelligence technologies in the People’s Republic of China.

A set of guidelines published by the Chinese government in June dictated that, going forward, all AI technologies released to the public would require a special vetting and certification process.

The rules went into effect on Aug. 15. As Cointelegraph reported, a number of Chinese companies were given approval to launch models including Baidu, Tencent, TikTok, and ByteDance.

Related: Tencent unveils ChatGPT rival in China amid continuing US AI chip ban

Among the provisions included in the updated restrictions are rules barring the generation of images in the likeness of China’s president, X Jinping, and mandates indicating organizations will address objectionable content within a three month period. Previous versions of the legislation called for monetary fines but, as Cointelegraph reported, those plans were axed.

As China explores a loosening of its regulations, the United States has taken only preliminary steps to regulate artificial intelligence technologies. Most recently, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer hosted a litany of top U.S. tech CEOs and founders in the first of nine scheduled forums to discuss potential policy ideas on Sep. 13.