Alibaba Tongyi Qianwen
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Alibaba Cloud Takes on ChatGPT with New AI Model Tongyi Qianwen

Alibaba Cloud ushers in a new era of artificial intelligence (AI) with the unveiling of a new model to support enterprises’ intelligence transformation.

Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, is introducing its latest large language model, Tongyi Qianwen.

The new AI model is set to be integrated across Alibaba’s various businesses to improve user experience, which includes providing the company’s customers and developers with access to the model to create customised AI features.

With this, Alibaba Cloud is also announcing lower cost options for key cloud products, including its Elastic Compute Service (ECS) and Object Storage Service (OSS), by introducing new ECS instances, OSS Reserved Capacity (OSS-RC) and OSS Anywhere Reserved Capacity (OSS-ARC).

Above all, the move will make computing more accessible and affordable for companies looking to unlock emerging opportunities in the new AI era in China.

“We are at a technological watershed moment driven by generative AI and cloud computing, and businesses across all sectors have started to embrace intelligence transformation to stay ahead of the game,” said Daniel Zhang, Chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group and CEO of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

“As a leading global cloud computing service provider, Alibaba Cloud is committed to making computing and AI services more accessible and inclusive for enterprises and developers, enabling them to uncover more insights, explore new business models for growth, and create more cutting-edge products and services for society.”

Tongyi Qianwen integration 

Tongyi Qianwen (通义千问 in Chinese) will be integrated into all business applications across Alibaba’s ecosystem to further enhance user experience, from enterprise communication, intelligent voice assistance, e-commerce, search, to navigation and entertainment.

Supporting Chinese and English language capabilities, the model will first be deployed on DingTalk, Alibaba’s digital collaboration workplace and application development platform, and Tmall Genie, a provider of IoT-enabled smart home appliances.

  • Tongyi Qianwen-powered DingTalk is designed to make workplace communications more efficient. For example, it can summarise meeting notes, turn meeting conversations into text, write emails, and draft business proposals or promotion campaign plans through simple prompts. Users can instantly create a mini application on DingTalk by photographing a draft idea written on paper.

  • Tongyi Qianwen-powered Tmall Genie will be able to engage in more dynamic and vivid conversations with users in China. For instance, it can develop and tell stories to children, provide healthy diet recipes, offer travel tips and recommend background music for a workout.

Customisation at scale

Alongside these integrations, Alibaba Cloud is also to offer Tongyi Qianwen to its clients through the cloud in order to help them build and design customised large language models of their own.

The application of cloud technology to fine-tune Tongyi Qianwen with customers’ proprietary intelligence and industrial know-how will allow enterprises to establish tailored AI models to suit their specific business needs.

This approach is expected to instigate a new wave of growth momentum for the company’s customers, eliminating the need for resource-intensive and expensive pre-training processes for building foundational models. Tongyi Qianwen is now available for general enterprise customers in China for beta testing.

In addition to this, developers will soon be able to access Alibaba Cloud’s Tongyi Qianwen to create their AI applications at scale.

This will further bolster the AI software ecosystem across sectors ranging from logistics to media, finance, manufacturing, energy and retail. In this, the language model is now available as an API, and developers in China can currently apply for beta testing.

Multimodal capabilities, including image understanding and text-to-image, are expected to be added to the Tongyi Qianwen model to provide users with more compelling AI features in the near future.

‘A new paradigm of AI development’
Alibaba Tongyi Qianwen
Jingren Zhou, CTO, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence

“Generative AI powered by large language models is ushering in an unprecedented new phase. In this latest AI era, we can create additional value for our customers and broader communities through our resilient public cloud infrastructure and proven AI capabilities,” explains Jingren Zhou, CTO of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

“We are witnessing a new paradigm of AI development where cloud and AI models play an essential role,” continues Zhou.

“By making this paradigm more inclusive, we hope to facilitate businesses from all industries with their intelligence transformation and, ultimately, help boost their business productivity and expand their expertise and capabilities while unlocking more exciting opportunities through innovations.”

Tongyi Qianwen is based on Tongyi, Alibaba’s proprietary pre-trained model framework that unifies various AI models, including models that can turn text into images and short videos.

Last year, Alibaba Cloud launched ModelScope, an open-source model-as-a-service (MaaS) platform with hundreds of AI models, including a Tongyi-based text-to-image model for global developers and researchers. So far, with over 1 million active users, ModelScope has made 800 models available with over 16 million model downloads to date.

More accessible and affordable computing for enterprises and students

Designed for small and medium-sized (SME) enterprises, the new ECS Universal instance family provides the same stability as its similar product with projected saving costs of up to 40 per cent.

It is suitable for SMEs conducting web applications and websites, enterprise office applications and offline data analysis.

OSS-RC enables customers to reserve storage capacity in a specific region for one year. It reduces the capacity cost by up to 50 per cent from pay-as-you-go prices.

When customers have no requirement to store their data in a specific region, they can create an OSS ‘Anywhere Bucket’ to store data in a region chosen by Alibaba Cloud. OSS-ARC can then reserve capacity for objects stored in OSS Anywhere Buckets. It reduces the capacity cost by up to 70 per cent from pay-as-you-go prices.

To make computing resources more accessible to developers in China, Alibaba Cloud has also announced free trials of core products for up to three months, including ECS and PolarDB databases.

Alibaba Cloud will also provide 1,000 free training courses on cloud technologies and around 500 hands-on experiments based on real business scenarios for developers to access cloud technologies easily.

In addition, Alibaba announced its Cloud for Youth programme is partnering with UNESCO Chair on Artificial Intelligence in Education to bring more computing resources to students in China’s rural areas.

Unveiled in 2021, Alibaba’s non-profit Cloud for Youth program helps to narrow the digital gap in China by providing cloud computers to schools in underdeveloped areas. The goal is to help youths strengthen their technical foundation in digital capabilities and cultivate local digital talents.


  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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