The head of Baidu, a prominent AI firm in China, Robin Li, cautioned against the rush to develop large language models, emphasizing the need for a focus on practical applications instead of an overemphasis on resource-intensive endeavors.
Li expressed his concerns about the potential wastage of resources in the race to create large language models. This warning comes amid industry apprehensions about the sustainability of companies developing such models, as viable business models are yet to be established.
The surge in interest in generative artificial intelligence in China has led various companies, both established and startups, to enter the field since the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last year.
“I’ve observed a phenomenon (in China) where many industries, companies and even cities are purchasing hardware, stocking chips, (and) building computing centres to train proprietary large models from scratch.”
“A large language model itself is a basic foundation akin to an operating system, but ultimately developers need to rely on a limited number of large models to develop various native applications. Therefore, constantly redeveloping foundational large models represents an enormous waste of social resources,” Li said.
Li said there are many large models in China, but AI applications developed based on large models are still very few. As of October, 238 large language models have been released, up from just 79 in June, according to Li, citing a third-party report.