Alibaba to roll out ChatGPT rival called Tongyi Qianwen

Tongyi Qianwen translates as "truth from a thousand questions" and is the latest chatbot to enter the global AI race.

Corporate clients and developers will have an opportunity to "fine tune" Alibaba's new AI model according to their business needs and research, the group announced Tuesday (11 April).

Tongyi Qianwen will help corporate users to perform tasks such as drafting business proposals and polishing essays, the company said, adding it will eventually embed the chatbot into its ecosystem of services, including voice assistant, search, and navigation.

The model, which can respond to prompts in Chinese and English, will offer users a more "personalized" experience, such as creating bedtime stories and picking music for a workout, the company said.

"We are at a technological watershed moment driven by generative AI," Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said in a statement, adding that "businesses across all sectors have started to embrace intelligence transformation to stay ahead of the game."

Coinciding with Alibaba's announcement, the Cyberspace Administration of China has proposed draft rules to regulate generative AI. The body, which acts as China's internet regulator and censor, said all AI-generated content must adhere to "core socialist values." Security and privacy must also be ensured, it said, warning violators of fines and prosecution.

This comes after Italy temporarily banned ChatGPT, citing privacy fears, and a group of industry insiders, including Elon Musk, called to pause further AI developments until safeguards are implemented.

On the other side of the spectrum, OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed company behind ChatGPT, announced it could open an office in Japan after Tokyo said it might consider adopting its AI technology for government business if cybersecurity issues are addressed.