China’s Tencent Holdings, the owner of the WeChat platform, launched a large AI model, Hunyuan, on Thursday, emerging as a heavyweight competitor to lead in the AI industry. This has set the stage for a clash of technological titans, including established platforms such as OpenAI’s GPT‑3 and Meta Platform Inc’s Llama 2.
“By July, there are more than 130 large language models in China… A war of a hundred models has begun,” Jiang Jie, Tencent’s vice president, said.
This shows how fierce the competition is even within the Chinese tech industry as companies strive for dominance in the field of artificial intelligence.
Hunyuan’s entry, following similar events by Baidu Inc and SenseTime Group, demonstrates the urgency of China’s tech firms to make their mark on the global AI map. This spirit coincides with more supportive regulations, which have uncovered a surge of AI-powered applications.
Headquartered in Shenzhen, Tencent’s strategic approach includes integrating Hunyuan’s capabilities into its existing products, such as video conferencing and social media. Moreover, it has ventured into the AI chatbot field, aligning its ambitions with the regulatory framework.
Yet, challenges appear to be looming on the horizon.
Beijing’s support for generative AI is, to some extent, associated with U.S. restrictions on advanced semiconductors, essential for training AI models. Dowson Tong, CEO of Tencent’s cloud and smart industries group, acknowledges the hurdles. “The constraint that we’re facing will hinder the progress, the speed of development,” CNBC reported Tong as saying in response to a question about U.S. restrictions.
Tong’s pragmatic perspective illustrates both opportunities and challenges, which are inherent themes in the AI technology race between China and the U.S. The question still remains: Can China’s ChatGPT clones, including Tencent’s Hunyuan, provide it with a competitive edge in this race?
The answer may lie in the field of business applications. Tong emphasizes the importance of industry-specific training for AI, citing tourism, finance, public services, and customer service as prime examples.
Leveraging open-source models and enterprise data for tailored solutions, companies can carve their niches while protecting data. “We believe many different customers, in fact, would benefit more by leveraging open-source models and use their own enterprise data to train for their own models to meet the very specific needs in their industrial use cases,” Tong explained.
In the larger chessboard of AI, as China’s tech giants have started to unleash their AI innovations, the world watches, eager to witness which entity will emerge victorious in this high-stakes game.