TikTok Owner ByteDance To Offer AI Chatbot Customisation

TikTok owner ByteDance is reportedly working on an open platform allowing users to create their own customised AI chatbots, in a move similar to one announced by Microsoft-backed OpenAI last month.

The Beijing-based firm plans to launch its “bot development platform” as a public beta in China by the end of this month, according to a companywide internal memo seen by Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post.

The company told staff the platform aligns with a strategic vision to “explore new generative AI products and how they can integrate with the existing ones”.

ByteDance is also working on a text-to-image generator similar to Midjourney or OpenAI’s Dall-E, local media previously reported.

Custom chatbots

OpenAI last month said it would allow users to create large language models (LLMs) specially tailored for specific tasks and offer them to the public on a “GPT Store”.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT is based on a type of LLM called a Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, or GPT.

The public launch of ChatGPT just over a year ago, in November 2022, kicked off a worldwide rush for major companies and start-ups to develop their own LLMs, including in China, where ChatGPT and similar services from Google and others remain unavailable.

A number of the companies developing LLMs are also allowing customers to create custom versions of the technology.

AI rush

The cloud unit of Chinese tech giant Baidu launched Ernie Bot in March, and the same month offered Qianfan, which allows enterprise users to develop their own LLMs and related services.

Alibaba Cloud in October launched Bailian, which similarly allows the development of custom LLMs based on Alibaba’s Tongyi Qianwen chatbot.

While Google and OpenAI are not offering their technologies in China, Microsoft as been promoting its ChatGPT-powered Copilot service in Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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