China joins the frenzy of releasing large AI language models

More than 70 large artificial intelligence (AI) language models with over 1 billion parameters have already been released in China, and more applications are filed every day.

Baidu CEO Robin Li told an industry event in Beijing on Tuesday that north of 70 large AI language models have been released in the country, including chatbots from facial recognition firm SenseTime and AI startups Baichuan Intelligent Technology, Zhipu AI, and MiniMax.

Baidu’s latest AI chatbot, Ernie 3.5, has processing speed twice that of the previous version with 50% improved efficiency, according to Li. He also revealed that Baidu will launch a new version in the near future.

China's 360 Security Technology and iFlytek also released their AI models to the public.

Hefei-based iFlytek, best known for it voice recognition technology, said it was launching its "Spark" AI model while Being-based 360 Security Technology, best known for its antivirus software, launched its its AI model "Zhinao", according to the state-backed Securities Times.

Unlike other countries, China requires companies to submit security assessments and receive clearance before AI products can be available for anyone to use.

Authorities have recently accelerated efforts to support companies developing AI as the technology increasingly becomes a focus of competition with the United States. Baidu and SenseTime announced last week they had received government approval to launch their ChatGPT-style chatbots.

There’s more concerning news, though. Chinese tech giants, including the likes of Alibaba and Huawei, have filed 110 applications related to deepfake technology to China’s cyberspace regulator.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) published a list last week of firms seeking approval to comply with the rules governing the use of deepfake technology set out by the agency.

While this approval process is separate from the CAC’s regulation of Chinese tech firms looking to put out generative AI products, the new applications reflect a surge in interest from Chinese firms in tech that can manipulate visual, audio and other data.