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Alibaba's cloud unit brings Meta's AI model Llama to its clients

August 4, 2023: On Thursday, Alibaba’s cloud unit brings Meta’s AI model Llama to its clients, as the Chinese e-commerce giant aims to increase the use of its development and take a leading role in technology.

The move could pit Alibaba against U.S. tech giant Meta, which has made a similar move, and pose a potential challenge to OpenAI, the firm behind viral A.I. chatbot ChatGPT.

In April, Alibaba launched its large language model (LLM) called Tongyi Qianwen. An LLM is an artificial intelligence model trained on vast amounts of data. It is also the basis for generative A.I. applications, such as ChatGPT which develop human-like responses to user prompts.

Tongyi Qianwen allows A.I. content generation in English and Chinese and has different model sizes, including seven billion parameters and above. A model’s parameters refer to its power.

Alibaba will be open-sourcing the seven-billion-parameter model called Qwen-7B, along with a version designed for conversational apps called Qwen-7B-Chat. Researchers, academics, and companies can use the model to create generative A.I. apps without training their systems, saving time and expense. Companies with over 100 million per month active users will require a royalty-free license from Alibaba to do so.

While Alibaba might not earn licensing payments from open-sourcing its technology, the distribution will help the business get more users for its A.I. model.

This comes when China’s biggest e-commerce company seeks to boost its cloud computing division through investments in A.I., targeting cloud computing as a critical future area for profitability and growth.

Earlier this year, Meta opened-sourced its Llama large language model to researchers and is working with other tech firms to boost its adoption. Microsoft last month said it was making Meta’s Llama 2 available on its Azure cloud-computing service.

Alibaba hasn’t yet announced such a partnership but if its LLM gains success in the market, it could prove attractive for cloud providers to make it available to customers. Offering a good LLM for A.I. app development is a possible competitive advantage for cloud computing players.

Alibaba has already made its apps using Tongyi Qianwen. Last month, the Hangzhou-headquartered firm launched Tongyi Wanxiang, an A.I. service that can generate images from prompts.

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