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SenseTime Unveils SenseNova 5.5 to Combat OpenAI China AI Restrictions SenseTime Unveils SenseNova 5.5 to Combat OpenAI China AI Restrictions
At the World AI Conference in Shanghai last week, SenseTime, one of China’s leading AI companies, introduced its latest model, SenseNova... SenseTime Unveils SenseNova 5.5 to Combat OpenAI China AI Restrictions

At the World AI Conference in Shanghai last week, SenseTime, one of China’s leading AI companies, introduced its latest model, SenseNova 5.5. According to The Guardian, the model demonstrated its advanced capabilities to combat OpenAI’s China AI restrictions.

Some of these capabilities include identifying and describing a stuffed toy puppy wearing a SenseTime cap. It also can offer feedback on a drawing of a rabbit, and instantly summarizing a page of text. According to SenseTime, SenseNova 5.5 is comparable to OpenAI’s own GPT-4 model.

Washington and Beijing at Odds

Rising tensions between Washington and Beijing have led the US to restrict the export of advanced semiconductors to China, which are essential for training cutting-edge AI technology. This has put pressure on various sectors within the AI industry.

The OpenAI block has “caused significant concern within China’s AI community,” said Xiaohu Zhu, founder of the Shanghai-based Centre for Safe AGI, highlighting concerns about equitable access to AI technologies globally.

This comes as OpenAI’s recent notification to its users in China that they would be blocked from accessing its tools and services starting July 9. “We are taking additional steps to block API traffic from regions where we do not support access to OpenAI’s services,” an OpenAI spokesperson told Bloomberg last month.

OpenAI’s decision could spur the development of Chinese AI companies, which are in fierce competition with their US counterparts and each other. China is estimated to have at least 130 large language models, accounting for 40% of the world’s total, second only to the US.

Although OpenAI has not elaborated on the reasons for its sudden decision, this move has significant implications for the AI landscape in China

Moving to gain market share

Due to OpenAI’s move, Chinese companies are hoping to attract users and expand market share with free offers. SenseTime is offering 50 million free tokens and deploying staff to help new clients migrate from OpenAI services. The hope is that users will migrate to SenseTime’s products since cost is an issue.

Another company, Tencent Cloud is giving away 100 million free tokens for its AI model until the end of July. “Competitors are offering migration pathways for former OpenAI users, seeing this as an opportunity to expand their user base,” noted Zhu.

Although OpenAI has not elaborated on the reasons for its sudden decision, this move has significant implications for the AI landscape in China

China’s Push Forward

Nevertheless, Winston Ma, a professor at New York University, remarked that OpenAI’s exit from China comes “at a time when Chinese big tech players are closing the performance gap with OpenAI and are offering these Chinese LLM models essentially free.”

OpenAI’s departure is a short-term shock to the China market, but it may provide a long-term opportunity for Chinese domestic LLM models to be put to the real test,” said Ma. Until now, Chinese companies have focused more on commercializing large language models than advancing the models themselves.

Chinese commentators have downplayed the impact of OpenAI’s decision. State media outlet the Global Times described it as “a push from the US to hamper China’s technology development.” Pan Helin, a digital economy researcher at Zhejiang University, echoed this sentiment, calling the development “a good thing for China’s large-scale model independence and self-reliance.

However, the US restrictions on China’s AI industry are starting to have tangible effects. The online video giant Kuaishou recently limited access to its new text-to-video AI model, Kling, due to a shortage of computing capacity caused by the lack of chips.

One thing seems clear, China, like the rest of the world, sees advancements in AI as keys to the future and seems to be investing as such.

ODSC Team

ODSC Team

ODSC gathers the attendees, presenters, and companies that are shaping the present and future of data science and AI. ODSC hosts one of the largest gatherings of professional data scientists with major conferences in USA, Europe, and Asia.

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