Chinese Tech Companies Are Going All-In on AI

Companies like Baidu and Xiaohongshu are racing to ride the waves of the AI revolution

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5:21 PM HKT, Wed August 2, 2023 1 mins read

The AI revolution is upon us, and Chinese tech companies are rapidly developing new tools — search engine Baidu is reporting strong results from its ChatGPT competitor product, while Instagram-like app Xiaohongshu rolls out new AI-powered image features.

Baidu announced that the latest version of its generative AI tool has outdone ChatGPT in “comprehensive ability scores,” and beaten out GPT-4 “in several Chinese capabilities.”

According to China Science Daily, Baidu’s newest language model Ernie 3.5 is handling Chinese language tasks better than GPT-4. And while its overall abilities are still not on par with GPT-4, some aspects of the service are managing to outpace OpenAI’s.

The comparison was conducted using datasets like AGIEval and C-Eval, which are designed to assess language model performances on various tests, including standardized exams like the SAT and GRE.

Kai-Fu Lee, CEO of Sinovation Ventures and President of the firm’s Artificial Intelligence Institute, is optimistic about the development of Chinese AI services.

“China has a rich body of Chinese-language data and a huge market,” he said. “The development of large AI models will support innovation-oriented industries, as well as the economy at large.”

Wu Hequan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, pointed out the obvious — that Chinese firms have an inherent advantage in developing products tailored to Chinese language and culture.

And outside of specialized sectors, AI-powered tools are rapidly trickling down into the hands of consumers to become a part of everyday life.

Xiaohongshu just introduced its own AI-powered features that allow users to generate images based on written content or rough sketches, eliminating the need to upload original pictures.

Currently, the tool generates three types of images: Notes, Thoughts, and Complaints. Although Notes and Complaints include written words within the image, the Thoughts function generates a pure image without text, visually representing a user’s input.

Users can also select from various art styles, like pixel art, line drawings, and futuristic looks.

“Thanks to this new feature, even I, not being skilled at drawing, can create cute pictures,” one user remarked. “I wanted to draw a sleepy baby, and the AI produced exactly the style I wanted. Now I can use it as my profile picture without fretting over copyright.”

Still, Xiaohongshu’s new AI features are far from perfect. One user recounted that an image of a zongzi rice dumpling on a plate was misinterpreted as a hat by the algorithm. And although the feature has been available for some time, posts using it are still relatively scarce.

Images via Xiaohongshu

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