Business China Featured News Technology

Beijing Enlists Chinese Big Tech Firms Alibaba, Baidu to Boost AI Models, Computing Power

The Beijing government has enlisted major Chinese tech firms, including Baidu and Alibaba Group Holding, to accelerate the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI), as the nation pours resources into the sector amid growing technological rivalry with the US.

The Chinese capital’s economic and information technology bureau and two other agencies on Friday unveiled an “AGI Industry Innovation Partnership Programme”, calling on partners to leverage their resources to push forward the development and applications of large language models (LLMs) – the technology that supports generative AI tools like ChatGPT.

The first batch of 39 programme partners include Alibaba Cloud, listed as one of two computing-power partners, as well as internet search operator Baidu, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and cybersecurity firm 360 Security Technology, which have all launched their own LLM products in recent months and were listed as large-model partners.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

Apart from computing power and large models, the partners will focus mainly on data, applications and investment. Other companies can join the programme by invitation or through submitting their own applications, the bureax said.

The programme aims to implement more than 10 commercial applications of LLMs in key scenarios each year and cultivate a group of leading enterprises to form a “well-established, technologically advanced AGI industry that will support the high-quality development of the digital economy”, according to the plan.

This comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping has emphasised the importance of boosting AI to modernise the country’s industries, even as Washington’s export restrictions on leading-edge chips, which are vital for training AI models, threaten to slow the country’s technological advancement.

On Thursday, Wang Zhigang, China’s Minister of Science and Technology, called on Chinese companies to seize opportunities in AI technology and establish a raft of regional AI highlands across the country.

Signage for Alibaba seen in Guangzhou, south China. Photo: Bloomberg alt=Signage for Alibaba seen in Guangzhou, south China. Photo: Bloomberg>

Under Beijing’s latest plan, partner companies will be responsible for enhancing the city’s computing power supply in the next five to 10 years by expediting key projects, such as the construction of the Beijing AI Public Computing Power Centre in Haidian District and the Beijing Digital Economy Computing Power Centre in Chaoyang District.

The plan also stresses the need to promote breakthroughs in chip-making processes and encourage the utilisation of chiplet technology to bridge the gap in making advanced computing chips.

Chiplet allows an integrated circuit (IC) block to be interconnected with other ICs to form a larger, more complex chip. It is seen by some Chinese researchers as an option for the country to forge its own path in advanced chipmaking.

Beijing has in recent months ramped up efforts to grow its AI industry.

Earlier this week, the municipal government released a new draft policy supporting the city’s AI industry, which includes the provision of state-funded computing power for relevant companies.

Last week, the city’s technology promotion agency started soliciting subsidised research projects relevant to AI, augmented reality and virtual reality, with 60 million yuan (US$8.6 million) earmarked for up to 12 projects over two years.

Source : Yahoo