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Market Blast – June 25, 204

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HomeFinanceChina nonetheless ready for 'ChatGPT second': AI skilled Kai-Fu Lee

China nonetheless ready for ‘ChatGPT second’: AI skilled Kai-Fu Lee



The Beijing startup based by expertise pioneer Kai-Fu Lee is introducing its first artificial-intelligence utility for shoppers, a step geared toward serving to China capitalize on the promising expertise. 

Lee’s agency, 01.AI, is launching a free productiveness assistant referred to as Wanzhi, the most recent in a collection of AI merchandise it’s creating. Just like Microsoft Corp.’s Workplace 365 Copilot, it helps customers create spreadsheets, paperwork and slide displays extra rapidly—although it’s primarily tailor-made for the Chinese language market. It might probably interpret monetary reviews, take minutes for conferences and speed-read books so long as Elon Musk’s 600,000-word biography to offer a fast synopsis. The app works in Chinese language and English. 

In an interview with Bloomberg, Lee mentioned that China wants its personal ChatGPT—OpenAI’s chatbot that was launched in 2022 and is banned within the nation—to speed up curiosity, adoption and funding. 

“For Individuals, the second occurred 17 months in the past,” Lee mentioned over a Zoom name from Beijing. “China’s customers didn’t have a ChatGPT second. Till now, not one of the Chinese language chatbots or instruments have been ok.”

Whereas U.S. companies akin to OpenAI, Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc. have taken the lead in generative AI, Chinese language gamers are urgent laborious to catch up. Along with 01.AI, tech gamers together with Baidu Inc. and TikTok-parent ByteDance Ltd. are pouring funds into creating their very own AI fashions and chatbot providers. Beijing has additionally supplied monetary and coverage assist. Beijing bars overseas AI fashions partially due to its strict censorship regime, however the so-called Nice Firewall additionally ensures that home gamers can have an unlimited native market with out international competitors.

The Taiwan-born 62-year-old—who labored for Apple Inc. and Google earlier than beginning his personal enterprise capital agency greater than a decade in the past—turned chief govt officer at 01.AI final yr. The startup reached a $1 billion valuation, or unicorn standing, inside eight months on the energy of an open-source AI mannequin that outperformed Silicon Valley rivals on a number of key measures.

Along with Wanzhi, the agency can be introducing a much bigger, proprietary giant language mannequin—the expertise underpinning AI chatbots—referred to as Yi-Massive, geared toward enterprise customers.

Software program builders will be capable of use the Yi-Massive mannequin at aggressive costs. Lee says the mannequin’s utility programming interface, or API, will price $2.50 for 1 million enter tokens and $12 for 1 million output tokens—about 1 million tokens lets a developer ship roughly ship 250 queries backwards and forwards. That’s far lower than with OpenAI’s GPT-4 Turbo, he mentioned.

Like many Chinese language corporations, 01.AI stockpiled “graphics processing unit” semiconductors from Nvidia Corp. when it turned obvious the U.S. authorities was planning to ban the export of high-end chips, such because the H100s which are used to coach main AI providers. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the Chinese language e-commerce large that invested in Lee’s agency, supplied a further provide of H100s, and 01.AI supplemented its wants with barely slower and fewer highly effective Nvidia H800 processors. 

“Our fashions have been educated on H100s processors legally introduced into China,” Lee mentioned. “Necessity is the mom of invention, we squeeze the whole lot we will from the compute accessible.”

In distinction to many international AI startups, Lee mentioned 01.AI is nearing profitability. After coaching the fashions on Chinese language and common information units, Lee is taking the fashions and apps international, and signing up home in addition to abroad prospects to spice up income subsequent yr. 

After a month-and-a-half of testing on customers, Lee’s firm is rolling a model of Wanzhi for PC browsers with extra complete options, and one for mobiles, accessible by means of the messaging service WeChat. He’s showing in video tutorials on Douyin, the Chinese language model of TikTok, to teach potential customers. 

“The yr 2024 shall be explosive for generative AI functions in China,” Lee mentioned.

Lee mentioned his startup is closing the second tranche of a $250 million pre-Collection A spherical in a number of weeks and, by the yr’s finish, will begin on the lookout for traders for its Collection A. The corporate has additionally streamlined its {hardware} and software program processes to maximise effectivity and maintain prices down.

“When GPT-5 comes, we shall be steps behind,” Lee mentioned, referring to OpenAI’s rumored next-generation AI mannequin. However 01.AI is concentrated on making AI inexpensive somewhat than creating large, costlier fashions. “You possibly can construct an enormous wonderful spaceship, however can it take you from Sacramento to San Francisco?”

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