The race to develop cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) is heating up, with China forging ahead in its efforts to create home-grown AI solutions. In light of recent US sanctions, Chinese companies are compelled to develop AI using weaker semiconductors and a combination of chips, bypassing the reliance on any single type of hardware. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, while it will be challenging for Chinese tech firms to create alternatives to these high-end chips, some experiments have shown “promise.”
US sanctions imposed on China in October 2022 have visibly impeded Chinese companies’ access to the most advanced chips in the market, including Nvidia‘s A100 chips and its latest version, the H100. These chips are popularly used in AI development scenarios. Presently, the Chinese market can only access Nvidia chips A800 and H800, which are sufficient only for small-scale AI models.
Despite the setbacks, there are some promising developments in China’s AI scene. In April, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba revealed its plans to roll out a ChatGPT competitor called Tongyi Qianwen in the “near future.” This chatbot is designed to be integrated into Alibaba’s suite of applications, including workplace messenger DingTalk.
The battle to create the best and most powerful AI system extends beyond the Chinese market. In the US, ChatGPT, the result of an OpenAI project, faces stiff competition from American companies, including Microsoft and Google. Microsoft has recently introduced several new AI-driven features for its chatbot Bing and web browser Edge to rival ChatGPT. Additionally, Google’s AI division, DeepMind, is reportedly restructuring to advance its AI capabilities.
Chinese authorities are not taking AI development lightly. They recently announced their intent to implement a mandatory review of all generative AI services within the country before they receive public operation permissions. This move indicates China’s awareness of the potential risks that uncontrolled AI systems can pose, but also its eagerness to stay at the forefront of AI development.
In conclusion, while the race to create powerful AI systems continues unabated, the challenges facing China in its pursuit of advanced AI development create an interesting dynamic. On one hand, these challenges highlight the determination of Chinese companies to rival their US counterparts by finding alternative chip solutions. On the other hand, such developments may encourage further global AI competition, sparking innovation and pushing the limits of current AI capabilities. As the world progresses into an AI-driven future, striking the right balance between AI control and rewards for human ingenuity will be a critical factor for technological advancement.