Baidu’s $145 million AI fund alerts China’s push for AI self-reliance

The decoupling between the US and China is resulting in a divided expertise panorama between the 2 main economies, shaping the event of the red-hot area of generative AI, which converts textual content into numerous types of content material comparable to prose, pictures and movies.

China, as a way to cut back its reliance on the US expertise base, has pursued its personal massive language fashions that match OpenAI’s GPT fashions. However not like the US, among the most superior AI efforts are occurring at established web juggernauts, comparable to Baidu.

The search engine and autonomous driving large rolled out its ChatGPT counterpart in March. Now the 23-year-old firm additionally desires to have a stake in different AI startups. The corporate desires to have a stake in different AI startups. At a JPMorgan summit in China this week, Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li introduced the launch of a billion yuan ($145 million) fund to help generative AI firms.

The fund may be in comparison with the OpenAI Startup Fund, which began with $100 million and ultimately grew to $175 million, as my colleague Connie identified. The fund will make investments as much as 10 million yuan, about $1.4 million, in a venture. Given the verify dimension, the fund is clearly focusing on early-stage AI purposes, which isn’t stunning provided that Chinese language generative AI startups have but to expertise widespread adoption and a lot of the funding is concentrated within the seed and early phases.

As well as, Baidu plans to make use of the fund to extend adoption of its personal massive language mannequin Ernie Bot. “US builders construct new purposes primarily based on ChatGPT or different language fashions. In China, an increasing number of builders will construct AI purposes primarily based on Ernie,” stated Li.

On this sense, the fund appears to advocate purposes of AI somewhat than builders of its base layer. The fund won’t lack pitches. Over time, Chinese language startups have gained recognition for his or her ingenuity in arising with new enterprise fashions starting from dwell streaming, dwell commerce to brief movies. Li predicted that within the generative AI period, Chinese language firms will as soon as once more take the lead in discovering industrial purposes for AI.

“I’m very optimistic concerning the growth of AI in China. In latest many years, China has warmly embraced new applied sciences. Regardless that we didn’t invent Android, iOS or Home windows, we now have developed an entire vary of extremely revolutionary purposes, comparable to WeChat, Douyin and Didi. A lot of them are well-liked and helpful. The identical pattern is taking part in out within the AI ​​period. Expertise gives a variety of prospects and we’re good at capturing it to construct purposes.”

A pertinent query, nonetheless, is whether or not the bottom stage – China’s native main language fashions – might be sturdy sufficient to help the vary of real-life situations anticipated of them. China desires its homegrown LLMs so it’s not vulnerable to US sanctions chopping off key expertise provide, as seen within the semiconductor business. Along with Baidu, Chinese language tech giants comparable to Alibaba and Tencent are additionally creating their very own massive language fashions.