Chinese apps take down ChatGPT as global AI race heats up | CNN Business
Several popular Chinese apps have removed access to ChatGPT, the AI chatbot that has taken the world by storm even as major Chinese tech companies race to develop their own equivalent.
ChatGPT, developed by US research lab OpenAI, is not officially available in China, but several apps on the Chinese social media platform WeChat had allowed access to the chatbot without using a VPN or a foreign mobile number.
Those doors now seem closed. Earlier this week, apps ChatGPTRobot and AIGC Chat Robot said their programs had been suspended due to “violation of relevant laws and regulations,” without specifying which laws.
Two other apps, ChatgptAiAi and Chat AI Conversation, said their ChatGPT services were taken offline due to “relevant business changes” and policy changes.
The Shenlan BL application was even more vague, citing “various reasons” for the shutdown.
While it’s unclear what prompted these closures, there are other signs that China may be turning sour on ChatGPT. On Monday, state media released a video claiming that US authorities could use the chatbot to “spread disinformation and manipulate public opinion”, pointing to its responses on Xinjiang as alleged evidence of bias.
When asked about Xinjiang, ChatGPT describes the Chinese government’s alleged human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in the far-western region, including mass detentions and forced labor. Beijing has repeatedly denied these allegations, claiming the detention camps are “education and vocational training centers” that have since been dismantled.
Other recent state media articles have expressed criticism and skepticism towards ChatGPT, with China Daily stating that its rise highlights the need for “strict regulations”.
Several Chinese tech companies saw their shares fall on Thursday after news broke that the WeChat apps had removed ChatGPT services. Beijing Haitian Ruisheng Science Technology, which develops and produces AI data products, closed 8.4% lower.
Meanwhile, Hanwang Technology and Beijing Deep Glint Technology, both developers of AI products and services, closed down 10% and 5.5% respectively.
ChatGPT burst onto the scene in December, quickly going viral thanks to its ability to provide long and thorough, if sometimes inaccurate, answers to questions and requests.
Since its launch, the tool has been used to write articles for at least one news publication, write abstracts for research papers that fooled some scientists, and even passed law and undergraduate business exams (yet than with low grades).
It has also raised alarm about its unknown long-term consequences, such as its impact on education and the ability of students to cheat on assignments.
Despite these concerns, ChatGPT’s success has spurred a global AI race.
Microsoft plans to invest billions in the city of San Francisco OpenAI and unveiled its AI-powered Bing chatbot last week, though it made headlines for moving into darker and sometimes disturbing conversations. Earlier this month, Google announced that it will soon release Bard, its own answer to ChatGPT.
China’s government has previously tried to restrict major Western websites and apps, including Google, Facebook and Amazon, prompting accusations from some of digital protectionism.
In the absence of foreign competition within the domestic market, Chinese tech companies have since become major international players, many of which are now revving their gears with an eye toward AI.
In early February, Chinese behemoth Alibaba said it was testing its own ChatGPT-style tool, although it did not provide details on when it would launch.
A team at China’s Fudan University developed their own version called MOSS, which instantly went viral, causing the platform to crash this week due to too many users.
And on Wednesday, tech giant Baidu said its AI chatbot ERNIE Bot, slated for release in March, will be used on multiple platforms such as its search engine, voice assistant for intel devices smart and even its autonomous driving technology.
The launch “will create a new entry point for the next generation of the Internet,” Baidu CEO Robin Li said on an earnings call, adding that the company expects “more and more entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs build their own models and applications with our AI Cloud.”