A response in Chinese by ChatGPT, an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI. (Image: REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration)
Google’s Chinese equivalent, Baidu Inc, revealed on February 7 that it will complete internal testing of Ernie Bot, a comparable AI chatbot project, by March and then go live
After chips, China is getting ready for the next tech war against the US amid rapid advances in generative artificial intelligence in recent months. Chinese companies are stepping up efforts to enter the fast-growing AI content sector. But apart from the hype and excitement, people are probably missing the threat factors, especially with China in the AI game.
An American company, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, has swept the globe because of its advanced conversational features since its launch in November. On February 6, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced the launch of its own AI chatbot, Bard, in a blog post.
Google’s Chinese equivalent, Baidu Inc, revealed on February 7 that it will complete internal testing of Ernie Bot, a comparable AI chatbot project, by March and then go live. The plan is to make this available as an app first and then integrate Ernie Bot into Baidu’s search engine.
Similarly, China’s biggest cloud computing player and e-commerce company, Alibaba Group, announced that its research institute Damo Academy is conducting internal testing of a ChatGPT-style AI tech. It is believed that the chatbot could be integrated into Alibaba’s products but there is no timeline announced for the launch.
However, there are other Chinese companies like Tencent Holdings, JD.com and NetEase, which are working on rolling out AI-powered chatbots or similar products. Even though it is now clear that Chinese and US tech companies are ready for a new supremacy race, News18 took a dive into the cyber world to find out whether there is a China threat coming in the form of AI chatbots.
The China concern
Although ChatGPT is not officially blocked by the Chinese government, citizens are unable to sign up for OpenAI. Additionally, Google removed its search engine from China in 2010 as a result of the country’s severe online government control.
So, it is quite evident that Chinese tech companies needed to make an AI plan for their own people. Even the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and IT said it will support companies to develop large AI models and concentrate on creating an ecosystem of applications for open-source AI frameworks.
Despite the fact that these companies will launch AI chatbots for the local market, there is a particular concern about the intention of the communist government in China, which is a known hotbed of hackers and is infamous for cyber espionage. So, what will happen if they allow the world to use them?
Priya Ranjan Panigrahy, CEO of Ceptes, said if China developed its own ChatGPT there will be lack of transparency as well as biases in information, and other countries might be concerned that the model could be used for espionage or cyber attacks.
“It is expected that the model might exhibit biases that reflect the values or perspectives of the Chinese government and their culture. This will highly impact how the model is used in applications like natural language processing or chatbots,” Panigrahy said.
He added: “We strongly believe that if the ChatGPT kind of large language model is developed by China, there is a fair chance that the algorithms of these chatbots can be poisoned by inaccurate information. Bad data along with inaccurate data will create a misleading data environment.”
The expert further said considering how the Chinese government controlled everything used in China, ChatGPT-like tools will not be spared if they develop their own.
Shrikant Bhalerao, CEO of Seracle, said: “Data privacy and machine-to-machine communication can be a concern, as China being the largest chip manufacturer they can introduce embedded functions that can club with AI pretty easily.”
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