China’s Alibaba and Huawei add products to AI frenzy


By Josh Ye and David Kirton

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Alibaba Group Holdings and Huawei Technologies Co on Friday showcased new products, including an artificial intelligence (AI) image generator and an AI model upgrade, as Chinese companies jostle for position in the global AI race.

Alibaba Cloud, an Alibaba subsidiary, presented at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai an image generator named Tongyi Wanxiang that will initially be available to enterprise customers in beta form.

Also on Friday, Huawei demonstrated the third iteration of its Panggu AI model at the start of its three-day annual developer conference in Dongguan.

Chinese tech companies are aggressively developing AI products after the ChatGPT chatbot by OpenAI ignited a generative AI boom. McKinsey estimates that generative AI could eventually add $7.3 trillion in value to the world economy each year.

Alibaba’s image generator will compete with OpenAI’s DALL-E and Midjourney Inc’s Midjourney, U.S.-based rivals that have gained a large following worldwide.

Alibaba Cloud emerged from a massive overhaul announced in March that split the Chinese tech major into six units. In April, it launched a ChatGPT-like text generator Tongyi Qianwen.

In addition to the Tongyi Wanxiang image generator, which roughly translates as “truth from tens of thousands of pictures”, presented on Friday, Alibaba Cloud has also rolled out ModelScopeGPT, an AI tool for developers.

Huawei said its AI takes a different approach from many AI applications. Rather than focusing on generating content, its Pangu 3.0 model would mostly serve industrial usages, it said.

The Shenzhen-based company said its model aims to ensure more efficient safety inspections for freight train carriages, AI assistance for local government services and more accurate weather prediction.

(Reporting by Josh Ye; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Barbara Lewis)

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