China’s Interim Regulations for the Management of Generative AI Services, which came into effect earlier last month, have paved the way for the public release of a slew of domestic mass-market AI chatbots and other products. This development marks a significant milestone in the evolution of AI technology in China, offering developers the opportunity to harness larger datasets and refine user experiences based on valuable feedback.
Ernie Bot: Baidu’s highly anticipated AI chatbot
The standout launch in this wave of AI product releases is Ernie Bot, developed by China’s leading search engine provider, Baidu. While Baidu was the first Chinese company to announce a competitor to ChatGPT, Ernie Bot had been available exclusively for small-scale “beta” or “invite-only” testing since its initial launch in March. However, with the announcement of its public release on August 31, Ernie Bot quickly climbed the charts and became the most downloaded free app on China’s App Store.
Government approval for 11 companies
A total of 11 companies have reportedly secured government approval for their generative AI products. This list includes tech giants like Tencent and ByteDance, along with several emerging AI start-ups like MiniMax, Zhipu AI, Baichuan Intelligent Technology. While the status of Alibaba’s Tongyi Qianwen remains uncertain, a company spokesperson informed Reuters that the team has applied for approval and anticipates a public launch in the near future.
Stringent regulations by CAC
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) introduced new regulations in July that set rigorous standards for generative AI services intended for public use. These regulations mandate that AI products must pass a security assessment before receiving official licensing, ensuring they meet the criteria of being both “reliable and controllable.” Additionally, AI models are expected to adhere to “core socialist values,” uphold fair business practices, protect data privacy, and respect intellectual property rights.
It is important to note that these stipulations do not apply to AI products intended for use by businesses or institutions, exemplified by Huawei’s Pangu model, which operates under different criteria and regulations.
The announcement of these new regulations and the subsequent approval of generative AI products have triggered a notable market response. Tech shares experienced a surge in value, underlining the significance of these developments in the Chinese AI sector.
China’s Interim Regulations for the Management of Generative AI Services have opened the door to widespread public access to AI products, signaling a crucial testing phase for developers. The public release of Ernie Bot, along with approvals for various other companies, reflects the nation’s commitment to fostering a secure and regulated AI ecosystem that adheres to ethical and legal standards.