China’s Alibaba unveils AI upgrade for cloud service to rival Amazon and Microsoft

The logo of Chinese technology firm Alibaba is seen at its office in Beijing on Aug. 10, 2021.
The logo of Chinese technology firm Alibaba is seen at its office in Beijing on Aug. 10, 2021. Copyright Mark Schiefelbein/Copyright 2021 The AP. File
By Pascale Davies
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Alibaba upgrades AI model with the aim of being “the most open cloud in the era of AI.”


Chinese tech giant Alibaba’s cloud computing unit has released the latest version of its artificial intelligence (AI) model as it carves out its place in China to rival US giants such as Amazon and Microsoft.

Company co-founder Joe Tsai unveiled the so-called AI model Tongyi Qianwen 2.0, its latest large language model to train chatbots, which operates in English and Chinese.

The company announced its GenAI Service Platform, which lets companies build their own generative AI applications using their own data. This would eliminate third parties from accessing the data.

“We aim to be the most open cloud in the era of AI,” the South China Morning Post reported Tsai as saying at the Apsara tech conference on Tuesday in Hangzhou, capital of the eastern Zhejiang province.

“We hope that through this cloud [platform], it will become easier and affordable for everyone to develop and use AI,” he said, adding that he wanted to turn AI into a huge productivity tool, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.

While Alibaba’s cloud unit now serves 80 per cent of Chinese tech companies and half of the country’s AI language model firms, according to Tsai, it has tough competition overseas.

Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Studio and Amazon Web Service’s Bedrock are leading the international markets.

Last week they reported strong profits, which was largely due to the implementation of AI in its cloud services.

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