In a move that sends shockwaves through the artificial intelligence (AI) industry, the Chinese tech and e-commerce giant Alibaba has announced the release of two open-sourced AI models, Qwen-7B and Qwen-7B-Chat, designed to rival Meta’s recently-launched Llama 2. According to a press release from Alibaba Group on Aug. 3, the company has released these large language models (LLMs) from its cloud computing department. Each of these models comes with an astounding 7 billion parameters. They are smaller versions of the Tongyi Qiawen, which Alibaba released in April.
The new models are strategically aimed at introducing AI to the operations of small and medium-sized businesses. The capabilities of both models include coding, modeling weights, and documentation, all of which will be freely accessible to academics, researchers, and commercial institutions worldwide. Marking a significant milestone, Alibaba’s latest LLMs are the first released from a Chinese tech company to be open-sourced. However, they come with a catch: businesses with over 100 million monthly active users will need a license.
On Aug. 1, Alibaba made another significant announcement, updating its AnalyticDB data warehousing service with a vector engine. This enhancement will enable corporate clients to quickly create custom generative AI applications, thereby expanding their reach and efficiency. Alibaba’s moves don’t exist in a vacuum. On July 16, Meta released its open-sourced LLM, Llama 2, in collaboration with Microsoft. Llama 2 was trained using 40% more public data and can process twice as much context as its predecessor, making it a strong competitor.
The most prominent version of Llama 2 features 70 billion parameters and requires a license from companies with over 700 million monthly users, similar to Alibaba’s latest model. Further amplifying its presence, on July 26, Alibaba announced the “first training and deployment solution for the entire Llama 2 series in China,” deploying a Llama 2 solution for businesses to develop AI-powered software and tools.
The announcement from Alibaba opens up a new chapter in AI, pitting eastern innovation against western technology. As Meta and Alibaba draw their battle lines, the AI landscape is set to evolve in unprecedented ways. The democratization of AI through open-source initiatives promises to fuel innovation and competition. It’s a thrilling time for the industry, with small and large players alike set to benefit from these developments. With Alibaba’s Qwen-7B and Qwen-7B-Chat going head-to-head with Meta’s Llama 2, the future of AI looks more exciting than ever. The race is on, and the world is watching.