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Alibaba Touts ChatGPT Challenger Ahead of Main Event

The company’s cloud computing unit is offering invitation codes to some corporate customers so they can try the large language model called “Tongyi Qianwen."

(Bloomberg) -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is inviting users to test the company’s in-house artificial intelligence tool, the latest attempt from a Chinese tech behemoth to rival OpenAI’s powerful ChatGPT.

The company’s cloud computing unit is offering invitation codes to some corporate customers so they can try out the large language model called “Tongyi Qianwen,” according to an announcement posted on the subsidiary’s official WeChat account. The name, partly derived from the ancient philosopher Mencius, translates roughly to “Truth from a Thousand Questions.” Alibaba Cloud’s website for the service is only in Chinese, suggesting it could be used primarily to process queries in the e-commerce giant’s home language.

Alibaba Cloud is slated to host a technology summit next Tuesday in Beijing, where Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang will deliver a speech, the company said in a separate statement. 

Alibaba rose as much as 2.5% in Hong Kong on Thursday after a report said the Chinese technology giant was planning to launch its own AI tool this month. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is closed for holiday on Friday.

OpenAI, the US maker of ChatGPT, kicked off a frenzy of interest in the technology as its services promise to remake businesses from online search and advertising to health care. Microsoft Corp. is pouring $10 billion into OpenAI in what’s seen as a bid to challenge Google in its lucrative search operation.

Shares of a number of Chinese AI companies advanced this week following reports of their own AI tools’ release. SenseTime Group Inc., also listed in Hong Kong, rose in the past five trading days after speculation that China’s most valuable specialty AI company was preparing to launch a challenger to ChatGPT.

China’s hype over indigenous ChatGPT rivals was ignited by search engine provider Baidu Inc., whose Ernie Bot launch last month failed to wow investors.

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