Last Updated on January 30, 2024 by SPN Editor
In a bid to match the U.S. in AI advancement, China has given the green light to over 40 Chinese AI models for public utilization in the first half-year since the initiation of the approval process, as per reports from Chinese media.
Last week, the Chinese authorities sanctioned 14 large language models (LLMs) for public use, marking the fourth round of approvals. Among the beneficiaries of these approvals were notable firms such as Xiaomi Corp, 4Paradigm, and 01.AI.
Since August of the previous year, Beijing has mandated tech firms to secure regulatory approval before making their LLMs publicly accessible. This move highlights China’s strategy of fostering AI technology development while maintaining regulatory oversight.
Shortly after the implementation of the approval process in August, Beijing sanctioned its inaugural batch of Chinese AI models. Tech giants Baidu, Alibaba, and ByteDance were among the first recipients of these approvals.
Subsequent rounds of approvals were granted in November and December, with another batch approved this month. Although the government has not publicly disclosed the complete list of approved companies, the Securities Times reported on Sunday that over 40 Chinese AI models have received approval.
The success of OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, in 2022 sparked a rush among Chinese companies to develop AI products. At that time, China possessed 130 LLMs, which constituted 40% of the global total, trailing slightly behind the U.S.’s 50% share, as per brokerage CLSA.
Baidu’s Ernie Bot, a leading chatbot similar to ChatGPT in China, has attracted over 100 million users, as reported by the company’s CTO in December.
Chinese AI sector, a rapidly growing multi-billion dollar industry, was estimated to be worth around RMB 150 billion (US$23.196 billion) in 2021, with projections indicating a rise to RMB 400 billion (US$61.855 billion) by 2025.
The journey of AI development in China began in the late 1970s, spurred by economic reforms that prioritized science and technology as the main driving force of the country. Despite initial hurdles such as resource scarcity and talent shortage, China has since 2006 emerged as a global leader in AI research and development.
In 2017, China unveiled an ambitious plan for domestic Chinese AI technology development, aiming to establish itself as the world’s ‘premier AI innovation hub’ by 2030. The plan involves expanding the application of AI across various sectors including production, governance, and defense.
The central government of China has identified “national AI teams” comprising fifteen China-based companies, including Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba, SenseTime, and iFlytek. Each of these companies is expected to spearhead the development of a specific AI sector in China.
As China continues to expand its AI industry, it faces ethical and regulatory challenges that need to be addressed, such as data control and user privacy. Despite these issues, China is rapidly narrowing the gap with the U.S. in AI research, with Chinese researchers now publishing more Chinese AI papers and securing more patents than their U.S. counterparts.
China’s investment in AI is substantial and continues to grow at a rapid pace. The country consistently files more AI patents than any other, and as of March 2019, it had 1,189 AI firms, second only to the U.S., which had over 2,000 active AI firms.
In the realm of venture capital and private equity funding, Chinese AI startups outpaced U.S. startups in 2017, although this was not the case in 2016 or 2018. Despite this, China is still considered to lag behind both the United States and the European Union in terms of high-quality AI talent.
However, China is swiftly closing the gap with the U.S. in AI research. Chinese researchers are now publishing more AI papers and securing more patents than U.S. researchers. In 2017, the Chinese government announced its goal to become the world’s leading AI hub by 2030, with a strategy centered on investing in research and retaining domestic talent.