China accelerates launch of large-language models as Elon Musk visits Beijing

China has quickened its release of AI large-language models, matching the US in the global AI scene, as Tesla's Elon Musk returns to Beijing amidst the nation's AI boom.
Daniel Lehewych
Mr. Musk

Chinese organizations have supercharged their efforts to advance artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, launching 79 large-language models (LLMs) over the past three years, a report by state-run research institutes revealed.

The development of LLMs, which are trained on massive volumes of text data using deep learning techniques, entered a high-gear phase in 2020, according to the report produced by research institutes under the country's Ministry of Science and Technology.

Rapid Rise of Large-Language Models in China

The year 2020 saw the release of two LLMs from Chinese organizations, compared with 11 in the United States. However, the following year, both countries released 30 LLMs each, the report outlined. U.S. organizations released 37 LLMs in 2022, slightly ahead of China's 28. Yet, in 2023, China has taken the lead with 19 LLMs, edging out the U.S.'s 18.

"China and the United States lead by a big margin in the distribution of large-language models released around the world, accounting for more than 80% of the global total," the report summarized.

Export controls from the U.S. pose significant challenges to China's AI industry, limiting access to elemental semiconductors in training LLMs and other advanced computing tasks. Despite these hurdles, tech giants in China, including Alibaba, SenseTime, and Baidu, have followed OpenAI's ChatGPT by launching their chatbots powered by generative AI and LLMs.

Elon Musk's High-Stakes Visit Amidst China's AI Boom

Against AI advancements, Tesla CEO Elon Musk commenced a high-stakes visit to China, marking his return to the electric carmaker's largest production hub after a three-year absence. During the visit, Musk met with Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang, expressing his willingness to expand business in China and his opposition to decoupling the U.S. and China economies.

Despite intensifying competition from Chinese-made electric vehicles and uncertainty surrounding Tesla's Shanghai plant expansion, Daniel Ives, an analyst at investment firm Wedbush, expects Tesla to concentrate on growing its China footprint. Ives referred to China's market for electric vehicles, the largest globally, as "the golden goose EV market," signifying a source of ongoing profit.

SpaceX, Musk's space company, and its Starlink satellite network have garnered attention from Chinese researchers following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, prompting state-owned Chinese companies to launch their low-Earth orbit communications satellites.

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