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Progress in generative AI lauded

(China Daily)

Updated: 2023-06-30


Visitors look at core components for AI foundation models during an expo in Beijing. CHEN XIAOGEN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Greater effort is required to give full play to artificial intelligence and its responsible use, speakers at the 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also known as the Summer Davos Forum, said in Tianjin.

The remarks came as the next-generation innovative technology leads a new round of industrial revolution and transforms how people live.

Zhang Yaqin, dean of the Institute for AI Industry Research at Tsinghua University, said although ChatGPT was not developed in China, about 100 Chinese companies have marched into the generative AI space over the past six months.

Some have unveiled large language models, while others are developing industry-specific models covering fields like biological computing and education, Zhang said.

China, he noted, has been doing some terrific work in basic research, algorithms and industrial application of AI models, and generative AI has brought about disruptive changes to the entire industry.

Generative AI refers to algorithms that are trained with huge amounts of data and capable of generating content such as images, text, audio and video.

It is the key technology underpinning ChatGPT, an AI chatbot developed by US-based AI research company OpenAI.

Pascale Fung, chair professor of the Department of Electronics and Computer Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said generative AI is built on large language models with huge amounts of data, and its task is to generate content.

"Fundamentally, these (AI) models are very different from anything we have seen before because we did not develop them to do what they are doing today," Fung said. The AI models are creative, and could potentially be used as a basis to build other AI systems.

Major Chinese tech heavyweights, including Alibaba Group, Baidu Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd, have unveiled their own AI-powered large models amid a worldwide frenzy surrounding ChatGPT.

Wang Guan, chairman of Learnable, an AI startup, said AI large models can be applied in the education segment and AI can play a role in assisting teachers to check students' homework or finish some auxiliary teaching work.

The commercial use of AI chatbots has triggered concerns over the safety and responsible use of generative AI, given that a new set of problems is emerging, including ethics, academic honesty and leaks that infringe on personal privacy and data security.

Fung said people are understandably concerned about generative AI. "We should not stand in the way of progress. On the contrary, we need to actually develop more guardrails."

Experts said though there is fear that AI will take away jobs, it will, in fact, create new ones.

A report released by global consultancy PwC on Wednesday showed that Chinese employees are bullish about the potential of AI in their careers.

According to the report, 44 percent of the surveyed employees think that AI will help them increase productivity and efficiency, while 68 percent deem digital skills to be important in their careers.

In addition, 36 percent of the Chinese interviewees think AI will help them learn new skills, while 29 percent believe that AI will help create new job opportunities.

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