China said to fall short of matching US advances in AI owing to ‘many challenges in theory and technologies’

China said to fall short of matching US advances in AI owing to ‘many challenges in theory and technologies’

China said to fall short of matching US advances in AI owing to ‘many challenges in theory and technologies’

China is falling short of matching the United States in artificial intelligence (AI) advances because the nation’s efforts are “littered with many essential challenges in theory and technologies”, according to a recent slide presentation made to Chinese Premier Li Qiang.
Those difficulties were pointed out to Li during his recent inspection tour of the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence (BAAI), a private non-profit organisation founded in 2018 that is engaged in AI research and development, according to a report broadcast by state-run China Central Television (CCTV).
The major hurdle faced by China’s generative AI initiatives, according to the presentation at BAAI, is excessive reliance on Meta Platforms’ Llama system, a family of large language models (LLMs) released in February last year. LLMs are the technology used to train ChatGPT and similar generative AI services, which are used to create new content including audio, code, images, text, simulations and videos.
The presentation said there is “a serious lack of self-sufficiency” in that area of Chinese AI development because most domestic LLMs are built on LLama. Facebook parent Meta in July last year made its open-source Llama 2 AI model free for research and commercial use.
Chinese Premier Li Qiang, sixth from left, is seen at the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence during his inspection tour of the non-profit AI research and development group’s headquarters in the nation’s capital on March 13, 2024. Photo: Xinhua

While state agencies are now working in parallel with private Chinese tech firms to develop a range of AI innovation, they still face problems related to computing infrastructure for training LLMs.

“Dozens of locally developed chips are different in terms of families and ecosystems”, making the 100-billion-parameter training for Chinese LLMs “very unstable”, the presentation said. US tech sanctions on China have restricted the mainland’s access to advanced semiconductors, made with American technology, for local AI development projects.

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The number of government-approved LLMs and related AI applications on the mainland currently total more than 40. But at present, there are more than 200 China-developed LLMs in the market.

Another major issue pointed out by the presentation at BAAI refers to control of AI-generated content.

It said the unique challenge faced by Chinese-developed LLMs is in generating “quality content that is in line with facts”, while also taking into account ideology and various emotions.

AI chatbots, including ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini, are prone to generating inaccurate output, referred to as hallucinations.

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Although CCTV did not identify the BAAI presentation’s author, the slides that were broadcast show the logo of start-up Beijing Zhipu Huazhang Technology Co (Zhipu AI). A representative of Zhipu AI on Thursday confirmed that the company was present during the Chinese premier’s inspection tour at BAAI the day before.

Zhipu AI, which forms part of the collaborative ecosystem that BAAI has been cultivating, said it has already built a 100-billion parameter scale LLM.

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