China's Alibaba invites businesses to trial AI chatbot

Tech giant Alibaba is seeking companies to test its Tongyi Qianwen AI chatbot, business publication STAR Market Daily reported on Friday, joining the rush to emulate the explosive success of ChatGPT.

The free-to-use ChatGPT, a large language model (LLM) application created by Microsoft-backed OpenAI, was released to the public last November and can generate articles and essays on demand in response to user prompts.

Alibaba has opened up registration for businesses to conduct testing for its AI application, STAR Market reported without specifying details.

A source close to the matter confirmed to Reuters that the application was an LLM targeted at business users.

Alibaba's cloud computing division published a teaser on Friday, posting a message on social media simply stating: "Hello, my name is Tongyi Qianwen, this is our first time meeting, I welcome your feedback."

The official website for the chatbot application merely has boxes to enter phone numbers and email addresses to request an invitation but provides no specific details about its exact use.

Alibaba Cloud did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment.

A formal launch is expected at an Alibaba Cloud event on Tuesday. Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group as well as the company's cloud division, is scheduled to speak at the event.

Others to have joined the AI chatbot race include Baidu Inc, with its Ernie Bot application open only to trial users at the moment.

On Saturday network gear maker Huawei Technologies is due to stage an event unveiling Pangu, its natural language processing (NLP) AI model.

SenseTime is also holding an event next week to showcase "cutting-edge advancements in artificial intelligence software".

Last week Alibaba announced that it will restructure into six standalone divisions, each with its own board and CEO. Zhang is set to stay as the cloud division's CEO. 

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt