ByteDance Joins China’s Large Language Model R&D Boom Driven by ChatGPT

In the large language model R&D craze brought to the mainstream by ChatGPT, tech giant Baidu has taken the lead in planning to launch its own version in March. Subsequently, Wang Huiwen, the former co-founder of food delivery giant Meituan, Li Zhifei, the founder of tech firm Mobvoi, and Wang Xiaochuan, the former CEO of tech company Sogou, declared their intention to develop a Chinese version of OpenAI. TikTok parent company ByteDance is also one of the players in the promising field.

According to a 36kr report published on February 23, ByteDance has exerted its strength in language and imaging to lay the foundations for developing its own large language model. The person in charge of the project in ByteDance responded that the exploration of these fields is still very young.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the language model team hosts about ten people and is led by ByteDance’s search department. The imaging team, on the other hand, is led by the intelligent creation team under the Product R&D and Engineering Architecture Department.

According to another person familiar with the matter, ByteDance started researching a language model earlier this year to combine it with its search and advertising businesses. “The search business department, AI Lab and applied machine learning teams have all transferred personnel to support the large language model that will be launched in the middle of this year.”

The heads of the large language model team and the image model team need to report their work to Zhu Wenjia, head of product technology at TikTok.

Before joining ByteDance, Zhu Wenjia worked as the chief architect of the search department at Baidu. In 2015, Zhu entered ByteDance’s news and information content platform Toutiao and was regarded as an excellent algorithm expert. Four years later, he became the CEO of Toutiao. In February, 2021, he was transferred to become the technical director of TikTok, and needs to report his work to TikTok CEO Shouzi Chew.

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Capital, talent and computing power are the key factors needed to train large language models. A senior AI expert revealed that Volcano Engine, an intelligent technology engine owned by ByteDance, officially entered the cloud market (IaaS layer) in 2021, laying a foundation for the computing power required by large language models.

In addition, AI-generated content technology has been used in Toutiao and TikTok’s sister app Douyin.