Alibaba unveils ChatGPT rival and custom LLMs

Chinese tech giant Alibaba has unveiled a ChatGPT rival and the ability to create custom LLMs (Large Language Models) for customers.

Alibaba’s ChatGPT rival is called Tongyi Qianwen and will be integrated across the company’s various businesses in the “near future,” but it is yet to give a rollout timeline.

“We are at a technological watershed moment driven by generative AI and cloud computing, and businesses across all sectors have started to embrace intelligence transformation to stay ahead of the game,” said Daniel Zhang, Chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group and CEO of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

“As a leading global cloud computing service provider, Alibaba Cloud is committed to making computing and AI services more accessible and inclusive for enterprises and developers, enabling them to uncover more insights, explore new business models for growth, and create more cutting-edge products and services for society.”

Tongyi Qianwen roughly translates to “seeking an answer by asking a thousand questions” and will support both English and Chinese languages.

Alibaba has stated that the chatbot will first be added to DingTalk, its workplace messaging app. Tongyi Qianwen will be able to perform several tasks at launch, including taking notes in meetings, writing emails, and drafting business proposals.

The chatbot will be integrated into Tmall Genie, similar to Amazon’s line of Echo smart speakers. That integration will give Alibaba an advantage over its Western counterparts such as Google which are yet to integrate their own equivalents into their smart speakers. 

Tongyi Qianwen is powered by an LLM that reportedly consists of ten trillion parameters, which is significantly more than GPT-4 (estimated to consist of around one trillion parameters.)

The model will be used as the foundation for a new service by Alibaba that will see the company build custom LLMs for customers. The LLMs will use “customers’ proprietary intelligence and industrial know-how” to build AI-infused apps without developing a model from scratch. A beta version of a Tongyi Qianwen API is already available for Chinese developers.

“Generative AI powered by large language models is ushering in an unprecedented new phase. In this latest AI era, we can create additional value for our customers and broader communities through our resilient public cloud infrastructure and proven AI capabilities,” said Jingren Zhou, CTO of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

“We are witnessing a new paradigm of AI development where cloud and AI models play an essential role. By making this paradigm more inclusive, we hope to facilitate businesses from all industries with their intelligence transformation and, ultimately, help boost their business productivity and expand their expertise and capabilities while unlocking more exciting opportunities through innovations.”

Last month, a group of high-profile figures in the technology industry called for the suspension of training powerful AI systems. Twitter CEO Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak were among those who signed an open letter warning of potential risks and said the race to develop AI systems is out of control.

A report by investment bank Goldman Sachs estimated that AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs. An AI think tank, meanwhile, called GPT-4 a risk to public safety.

Alibaba’s announcements were made at its Cloud Summit, which also featured the debut of three-month trials for its Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and PolarDB services. The company is offering a 50 percent discount for its storage-as-a-service offering if users reserve capacity in a specific region for a year.

The company has not yet revealed the cost of using Tongyi Qianwen.

(Image Source:

Want to learn more about AI and big data from industry leaders? Check out AI & Big Data Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. The event is co-located with Digital Transformation Week.

Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *