Baidu CEO Robin Li warns China’s AI boom risks resource crisis

  • Baidu CEO Robin Li cautioned against China’s excessive pursuit of AI’s fundamental large language models, warning of potential resource waste.
  • Highlighting the redundancy in duplicating foundational large language models, he urged a focus on crafting practical AI-native applications that leverage existing models for diverse scenarios.
  • As the AI future promises potential, caution is crucial to avoid resource waste and maintain a balanced distribution of social benefits.

Recently, Baidu’s CEO Robin Li issued a warning that China’s overzealousness in the development of large language models (LLM) underlying AI could lead to a waste of resources. He emphasised that companies need to focus on developing practical AI-native applications.

Repeatedly developing basic large language models

Since the launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI, generative AI has captured China’s attention. Numerous businesses, old and new alike, are diving into this realm, investing significantly in crafting expansive large language models.

Yet, Robin Li notes a concerning trend: various sectors are acquiring hardware, amassing chips, and constructing computing hubs solely to train their own unique large language models. This, he argues, amounts to an immense societal resource drain.

“Think of these large language models as akin to an operating system’s core. However, developers ultimately rely on a select few to power a range of AI applications. Redundantly rebuilding these foundational models is simply unnecessary,” remarked Li.

Additionally, he highlighted that despite the abundance of large language models in China, the development of AI applications leveraging these models remains notably limited. He stressed the importance for companies to concentrate on crafting practical large language models that can bolster the creation of diverse application scenarios.

Robin Li’s remarks have garnered significant industry attention, serving as a reminder that in the pursuit of AI technological progress, careful consideration must be given to resource efficiency and the equilibrium of social benefits.

Also read: ChatGPT went down due to DDoS attack, not its popularity

Navigating the AI Era

At the same time, the market grappled with concerns over viable business models for generative AI, despite the potential of large language models. The absence of a clear model has made investors and entrepreneurs exercise caution in this domain.

Nevertheless, Robin Li remains optimistic, asserting that as technology progresses and business models evolve, the AI sector holds immense developmental potential. Robust large language models, according to him, will catalyze the rise of AI native applications, fostering an ecosystem that, in turn, fuels economic growth.

Baidu, with its notable achievements in AI, recently unveiled Ernie 4.0, the latest iteration of its generative AI model. Robin Li encourages companies to actively explore innovative business models, fostering widespread application and commercialization of AI technology.

Also read: Beijing approves five AI models for public

In essence, Robin Li’s cautionary note underscores the need for prudence in AI development, emphasizing resource efficiency and social benefit balance. Simultaneously, the dynamic exploration and innovation by Baidu and other entities underscore the vast potential within the AI landscape.


Elma Yuan

Elma Yuan was a junior reporter at BTW media interested in media and communication.

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