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Alibaba says testing ChatGPT-style tool as AI buzz gathers pace

China's Alibaba Group on Wednesday said it is developing a ChatGPT-style artificial intelligence (AI) tool and that it was currently in internal testing.

Microsoft-backed chatbot sensation ChatGPT – which can generate articles, essays, jokes and even poetry in response to prompts – has been rated the fastest-growing consumer app in history since it was launched in November.

Alibaba's statement came after the 21st Century Herald newspaper reported the e-commerce giant is developing a ChatGPT-like dialogue robot which is currently open to employees for testing.

When asked about the newspaper report, which also said that Alibaba may combine the technology with the group’s communication app DingTalk, Alibaba declined to comment.

"Frontier innovations such as large language models and generative AI have been our focused areas since the formation of DAMO in 2017," said an Alibaba spokesperson.

"As a technology leader, we will continue to invest in turning cutting-edge innovations into value-added applications for our customers as well as their end-users through cloud services," the spokesperson added.

Following OpenAI's release of ChatGPT to the public in late November, other tech firms have raced to develop rival tools.

On Monday Alphabet Inc announced it would release a chatbot called Bard that it will integrate into its search engine.

One day later Microsoft Corp, which owns OpenAI, said it planned to tie ChatGPT in with its search engine Bing.

In China, search giant Baidu announced on Tuesday it was completing internal testing for a chatbot it called Ernie.

A number of other Chinese AI technology firms have seen stock prices soar due to investor excitement over ChatGPT, even though in many cases said firms have yet to announce any related tools.

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