China is moving into the AI chatbot rush

China is moving into the AI chatbot rush

The People’s Republic of China is also eagerly moving toward the current AI-powered chatbot rush.

According to a report by Nikkei Asia, Alibaba Group Holding, Tencent Holdings, Baidu, NetEase, and all unveiled plans to test and launch their own ChatGPT-like services in the near future. 

The report added that these firms are eager to show the results of their AI research efforts and how they are also primed to compete with their American counterparts. 

The competition in AI-related technology is not just business! It also has geopolitical overtones to the U.S.-China rivalry.

Shares of Baidu surged to an 11-month high after the search giant revealed its plan to launch the ChatGPT-style “Ernie Bot,” which is built on tech the company said has been in development since 2019. The company aims to complete internal testing in March before making the chatbot available to the public.

Alibaba’s shares, meanwhile, closed up 3.96% in Hong Kong last February 9 after announcing that they are internally testing a ChatGPT-style tool. 

AI should be treated with skepticism

Still, some in the industry say the buzz around AI should be treated with skepticism.

“Whenever there is a so-called next big thing, multiple companies will announce that they are in this area, but some companies may be just hyping with the catchword without any concrete product,” said an executive from one of the leading listed Chinese tech companies told Nikkei, asking not to be named. 

Kai Wang, a senior equity analyst for Morningstar Asia Limited, said there is a lot of uncertainty over the competitive landscape of AI, its regulations, and, ultimately, how well it works at this stage.

“We also have to be wary about how monetization of these products would work and how margin dilutive they are in the long run.”

Even state media thinks that AI-powered chatbots are being overhyped. 

“Some people avidly speculate on fake concepts, luring others into pump-and-dump schemes,” an editorial in the Securities Times said. “Investors eventually end up in tears, so they should not follow.”

Another challenge is China’s heavy censorship of cyberspace, which will make AI-generated content difficult.

The fun with ChatGPT is that it can generate articles, essays, poetry, and even sassy jokes without filtering through numerous restrictions. This may be difficult to do with China’s heavy suppression and regulations. 

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