China's Quest for AI Supremacy: Overcoming US Chip Sanctions


China is developing AI without US chips: Here’s how U.S. sanctions have limited China’s access to the latest chip technology to develop AI, but local companies are not letting this stop them. The race to develop artificial intelligence (AI) continues as China pushes forward the development of home-grown AI without utilizing the latest technology from the United States due to current sanctions. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Chinese companies are studying methods to develop AI via weaker semiconductors and combinations of chips to bypass reliance on a single type of hardware.

The report said researchers and analysts believe creating alternatives to such chips will be difficult for Chinese tech firms, but some experiments have shown “promise.” Sanctions imposed by the U.S. against China in October 2022 have deprived Chinese companies of accessing the most advanced chips on the market. This includes Nvidia’s A100 chips and the latest version, the H100, which are the most popular options in AI development. Currently, the Chinese market has access to Nvidia chips A800 and H800, which can only support small-scale AI models.

In response to these limitations, China is investing heavily in local semiconductor companies and nurturing home-grown talent to create a self-sufficient ecosystem for AI development. Government-backed initiatives, like the Made in China 2025 plan, aim to boost China’s high-tech manufacturing and reduce dependence on foreign technologies. In April, the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced it would roll out a ChatGPT competitor in the “near future” called Tongyi Qianwen. Alibaba plans to integrate the chatbot within its suite of applications, including its workplace messenger DingTalk.

ChatGPT is the brainchild of the U.S.-based company OpenAI. However, the race to create the best and most powerful AI system is underway, even among local American companies. Microsoft recently released various new AI-powered features for its preexisting chatbot and web browser Edge, which are said to rival ChatGPT. Additionally, Google’s AI division DeepMind is said to be restructuring to deliver the latest AI breakthroughs. Chinese authorities announced an upcoming mandatory review of all generative AI services released within the country before they can operate publicly. The government’s involvement underscores the importance placed on AI innovation in the country, even as they face obstacles like sanctions and international competition.

As China forges ahead in the pursuit of AI supremacy, their adaptability and resourcefulness could change the landscape of global AI development. This determination to innovate and excel in the field could result in the creation of unique, competitive AI solutions that reshape the world’s technological landscape.


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