By Josh Ye
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group’s cloud computing unit released two open-sourced artificial intelligence (AI) models on Thursday in a bid to take on Meta Platform.
The Hangzhou-based company said it has open-sourced two large language models (LLM), a type of AI model, named Qwen-7B and Qwen-7B-Chat on Thursday in a press release.
Each model has 7 billion parameters, which is often used to measure the strength. This marks the first time a big Chinese tech company has open-sourced its LLM.
It also comes after Meta unveiled a similar open-sourced model named Llama 2 last month, a move that has garnered widespread interest. Some analysts said that open-sourced models can chip away the current market dominance enjoyed by OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, and Google whose AI models charge users expensive fees.
Alibaba Cloud announced its LLM named Tongyi Qianwen in April which comes with multiple versions featuring different numbers of parameters. Alibaba said Qwen-7B and Qwen-7B-Chat are two small-size versions of the Tongyi Qiawen which aim at helping small and medium businesses to start using AI.
The two models’ “code, model weights, and documentation will be freely accessible to academics, researchers and commercial institutions worldwide,” the company said.
However, for companies with more than 100 million monthly active users, they will need to seek a licence from Alibaba before using the two models. Similarly, Meta’s Llama 2 also requires a licence from users with more than 700 million users.
Alibaba said Tongyi Qianwen has versions with higher number of parameters which have not been open-sourced, but it did not say how many parameters its biggest model contains.
The biggest version of Meta’s Llama 2 features 70 billion parameters.
China has been trying to catch up to the U.S. in the field of AI as Beijing encourages Chinese companies to quickly develop homegrown and “controllable” AI models that can rival those developed by U.S. companies.
Other than Alibaba, tech giants such as Tencent Holdings and Huawei have been aggressively developing their own AI models in recent months.
(Reporting by Josh Ye; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Jacqueline Wong)