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Tencent launches Hunyuan AI model for enterprises against Chinese competition


Chinese tech giant Tencent is launching its “Hunyuan” artificial intelligence model for professional use at an annual summit on Thursday, Dowson Tong, CEO of cloud and smart industries group at Tencent, told CNBC in an exclusive interview ahead of the event.

The news comes a few days later Baidu revealed a slew of AI-powered apps on Tuesday in the wake of more favorable regulations.

Tencent said it was internally testing its Hunyuan AI model on advertising and fintech. The gaming and social media giant is also set to launch an AI chatbot on Thursday, the company announced in an online post.

Tencent is integrating Hunyuan’s capabilities into its existing video conferencing and social media products, Tong told CNBC.

The company operates WeChat, a messaging and payment application widely used in China, as well as video conferencing platform Tencent Meeting.

Baidu and several other Chinese companies have been given the green light in recent weeks to bring AI-powered chatbots to the public.

Similar to ChatGPT, the bots claim to respond to queries in a conversational and human-like manner, but mostly in Chinese. Some, like Baidu’s Ernie bot, also convert text to images and video, using plugins.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT is not officially available in China. The chatbot releases follow new Chinese generative AI regulations that came into effect on August 15.

Asked about the rules, Tong pointed out that such artificial intelligence is so new that no one knows what impact it will have on society.

Tencent launches Hunyuan AI model for enterprises against Chinese competition

“It’s prudent to put guardrails in place,” he said. This will ensure that the technology or services offered are of a high enough quality not to create and spread false information, he said.

Chinese authorities have said “interim” rules that came into effect last month would not apply to companies developing the AI ​​technology until the product is available to the general public.

This is more flexible than a draft published in April which stipulated that the rules to come would apply even at the research stage.

Development constraints

While Beijing has shown it’s more supportive of generative AI than initially feared, Chinese companies are also facing U.S. restrictions on obtaining advanced semiconductors. The most advanced versions of high-tech chips, called graphics processing units (GPUs), allow companies to train AI models.

“The constraint we are facing will hamper the progress and the speed of development,” Tong told CNBC in response to a question about the US restrictions.

Tencent launches Hunyuan AI model for enterprises against Chinese competition

He noted that global demand for computing power far exceeds supply in China. To alleviate the shortage, he said companies are “focusing on specific use cases, building appropriately sized models.”

“And we hope there will be more GPU computing in the coming months, so the development of these technologies can accelerate.”

AI for business

Tencent is just one of many Chinese companies – ranging from startups to phone maker Huawei – that have rushed to announce AI products this year. In August, Ali Baba announced that it was opening up its own AI model to third-party developers.

Artificial intelligence requires industry-specific training for the technology to generate value, Tencent’s Tong said. He listed use cases in tourism, finance, utilities, and customer service.

“We actually believe that many different customers would benefit more from leveraging open source models and using their own company data to train their own models to meet the very specific needs of their cases. of industrial use,” he said.

This designated use can also help with data protection, he said.