Chinese AI firms try to win over OpenAI users with special offers as ChatGPT maker restricts API use · TechNode


China’s AI companies are rushing to win over OpenAI users in the country as the ChatGPT creator takes measures to block API traffic from countries and regions that it does not officially support. Affected regions include mainland China, Hong Kong, Russia, and Iran.

Why it matters: OpenAI’s latest announcement on API restrictions has been widely interpreted as targeting China, where  local enterprises and developers have been using OpenAI’s API to build products or services. On the other hand, the move is being regarded as an excellent opportunity for Chinese AI companies to woo these users.

Details: Developers in China have posted screenshots of a notice from OpenAI to various online communities that states, “Our data shows that your organization has API traffic from a region that OpenAI does not currently support.” The notice adds that OpenAI will block such access starting on July 9.

  • API is an abbreviation for Application Programming Interface. Although Chinese IP addresses are not allowed to use OpenAI’s artificial intelligence software directly, local developers and companies have been able to create applications through OpenAI’s API platform, while individuals can change their IP address in order to get ChatGPT services. 
  • Search giant Baidu, one of China’s leading AI companies, on Tuesday launched a program called Cloud in Hometown that grants additional tokens that equal the scale of their OpenAI usage to users who migrate from OpenAI to the company’s own ERNIE series model. 
  • Baidu is also touting a zero-cost solution for developers to migrate from OpenAI, although it does charge a fee for further training, fine-tuning of prompts, and custom development services.
  • Alibaba Cloud has also joined the fray with an alternative solution that it claims is “the most cost-effective” with 22 million free tokens for Chinese developers.
  • Local AI startups, Zhipu AI, 01.AI, and Baichuan, have also launched exclusive offers for OpenAI users, with Tsinghua University-backed Zhipu being the most generous at time of writing with an offer of 150 million tokens for free.

Context: China has over one hundred AI models with parameters beyond 1 billion, according to data disclosed by the National Bureau of Statistics in March. Commercialization has become a key priority for the companies behind these models in recent months with a price war over tokens breaking out as the firms vie for potential clients.

Cheyenne Dong

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, AI, and blockchain. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]technode.com.
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