Chinese Tech Firms Embrace ChatGPT Trend; Alibaba DAMO Academy Increases Registered Capital; Get to Know the 14 New AI Unicorns in 2022

Weekly China AI News from Feb 5 to Feb 12

Recode China AI
5 min readFeb 13, 2023

Weekly News Roundup

Chinese Tech Companies Embrace ChatGPT Trend

What’s new: The ChatGPT phenomenon in Silicon Valley has sparked interest in the China tech scene, with companies such as Baidu, Alibaba, and announcing their own plans for ChatGPT-style AI technologies.

However, replicating the capabilities of ChatGPT is not a simple task. Unlike other chatbots, ChatGPT boasts versatility and multi-tasking abilities, ranging from answering questions to writing code. This success was the result of years of research and evolution from OpenAI, which improved their large language models from GPT-1 to GPT-3.5.

Here is a summary of the latest developments from Chinese tech companies:

  • Baidu is in the process of developing ERNIE Bot, an AI chatbot project. ERNIE Bot is set to complete internal testing in March before being made available to the public. The chatbot will be built on Baidu’s ERNIE series of large language models, including the 260-billion parameter ERNIE 3.0 Titan. ERNIE 3.0 placed first in the SuperGLUE language understanding benchmark in 2021.
  • Alibaba confirmed it is developing a ChatGPT-style technology, currently being tested internally. The company’s secret weapons include AliceMind, a collection of Damo Academy’s language models, and M6, a 10-trillion-parameter multimodal model capable of designing clothes and writing marketing materials.
  • Tencent has been making progress in its special research efforts. The company’s language model, HunYuan, outperformed humans and topped the Chinese Language Understanding Evaluation benchmark last year.
  • Huawei has not yet announced plans for a ChatGPT-style technology. However, the head of Huawei’s computing product line confirmed the company’s investments in large language models. In 2021, Huawei released PanGu-α, a 200-billion parameter pretrained Chinese language model.
  • plans to release ChatJD, an “industrial version” of ChatGPT for use in retail and finance. In 2021, JD researchers introduced K-PLUG, a domain-specific language model for e-commerce.
  • NetEase has been developing generative AI technologies through its Youdao AI technology team, which it claims shares the same origin as ChatGPT, for online education services.
  • iFlytek, a Chinese voice tech upstart, plans to utilize its ChatGPT-like technology in its upcoming learning pad set to be released in May.
  • 360, a security and search company, plans to launch a demo of its ChatGPT-like technology as soon as possible. The company has warned its investors that its technology is lagging behind ChatGPT.
  • PICO, the virtual reality arm of ByteDance, has refuted claims that the company’s AI Lab is working on ChatGPT-style technologies for PICO VR devices.

One more thing: Yuanyu Intelligent, a Chinese NLP startup, launched ChatYuan last week, billed as the first Chinese “ChatGPT”. You can try it here:

Alibaba’s Damo Academy Boosts Capital to 300 Million Yuan

What’s new: Alibaba’s research arm, Damo Academy, has experienced a talent exodus in the past year (check out our story last year below). However, with the growing popularity of ChatGPT and the renewed focus on cutting-edge AI technologies, the leading Chinese research lab is working to turn this around.

According to China’s Tianyancha App, the registered capital of Damo Academy has increased from 10 million yuan to 300 million yuan, a growth of 2900%. This increase in capital shows that Alibaba Damo Academy continues to invest heavily in AI and other underlying technologies.

Chinese media also reported that Damo Academy has applied for a patent for “human-machine dialogue and pre-trained language model training methods, systems and electronic devices”, which can improve the accuracy of question-and-answer interactions.

Damo Academy recently won two championships in the Chinese legal AI technology evaluation.

Meet 14 New Chinese AI Unicorns

What’s new: According to IT Juzi, China’s business database provider like CB Insights, there are 14 new AI unicorns that emerged as of November 30, 2022.

  • 4 new intelligent driving unicorns — Freetech, Holomatic, CIDI, and Soterea;
  • 3 new hardware robot unicorns — Mech-Mind, Megarobo, and Flexiv;
  • 3 new VR/AR unicorns — Xmov,, and Rokid;
  • 3 new AI unicorns- Aibee, DM-AI, and ExtremeVision;
  • 1 RPA unicorn — ShadowBot

The most active investors in China’s AI industry in 2022 were GGV Capital and Sequoia Capital China, with 15 and 13 AI investment events respectively.

Trending Research

Noteworthy Stories

  • Equipped with a brand new regulatory framework for generative AI, China is positioning itself as a fast follower of everything ChatGPT. — TechMonitor
  • Challengers, admirers, and blatant knock-offs of OpenAI’s chatbot boom in America’s tech rival. — TechCrunch
  • Sensor maker Hesai Group has raised US$190 million in the largest US initial public offering (IPO) by a Chinese company in 15 months as investors jumped on an opportunity for exposure to the booming electric-vehicle (EV) market. — SCMP



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