Microsoft China Exec Warns Of Hasty China AI Investments

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Microsoft China chief technology officer warns hasty investments in ChatGPT-style AI tools by Chinese companies could lead to losses

A senior executive at Microsoft China has warned that tech companies in the country are committing to hasty investments in artificial intelligence as a result of “fanaticism” over ChatGPT-like technologies and that the trend is likely to lead to wasted capital and talent.

Microsoft China chief technology officer Wei Qing told an AI conference in Beijing on Tuesday that people had only seen the “meteoric and exponential growth” of ChatGPT and had ignored the years of work that went into building the product.

A strategy of “burning money to hire thousands, or tens of thousands” of people to achieve success in generative AI tools such as ChatGPT may not work, he said, the South China Morning Post reported.

He said some launches of ChatGPT-like services in China had reached a frenzied state that could “squander large amounts of capital, time, and talent without yielding desired results”.

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Charles Zhang, founder and chief executive of news portal, similarly told an industry forum last Thursday that some companies were rushing to develop ChatGPT-like technology without appropriate resources.

ChatGPT’s development involved resources “from servers and computing power to knowledge base and tagging”, he reportedly said.

“Companies that have no such capabilities but choose to follow suit will squander a lot of their resources,” he added.

ChatGPT developer OpenAI was founded in 2015 and Microsoft committed an initial investment of $1 billion (£800m) in 2019, which rose to $13bn in January.

Rapid development

OpenAI made waves with the public release of ChatGPT last November and an updated GPT-4 model in March.

ChatGPT is not available in China, where major Western online services such as Google and Facebook are also blocked.

Major Chinese tech firms including e-commerce giant Alibaba and search company Baidu have introduced test versions of ChatGPT-like services and are planning rapid expansion.