Alibaba’s Damo Academy offers free access to 100 AI patents as part of China’s nationwide move to boost tech innovation

The move comes as China ramps up efforts to drive the development of AI, with Big Tech companies pouring massive resources into developing their own AI products amid escalating US export and investment restrictions on advanced technology.

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled a long-anticipated executive order, putting new restrictions on investments that American firms can make in China in semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and AI systems.

China leads the world in AI patent applications, with the country filing some 648,500 AI patent applications between 2018 and 2022, accounting for 62 per cent of the world’s total, according to research and development analytics firm PatSnap.

The US and South Korea followed in second and third place, with about 191,000 and 52,800 patent applications filed, respectively.

Damo said three of the 100 free patents focused on precision treatment of cancer, which could help hospitals offer intelligent solutions and accelerate the transformation of technology used to cure the disease.

Other patents include technology related to traffic signal perception used in intelligent traffic management, as well as image identification technology applicable to e-commerce platforms looking to weed out products that infringe on copyrights.

The World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai in July. Photo: Reuters

The World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai in July. Photo: Reuters

The academy said it planned to free up more patents in the future to establish a “more open AI technology ecosystem”.

Hangzhou-based Alibaba, owner of the South China Morning Post, established Damo in 2017 to focus on fundamental science and disruptive innovations. The institution has 16 laboratories covering areas ranging from AI and autonomous driving to quantum computing and semiconductor research and development.

Alibaba’s cloud unit in April revealed its own alternative to ChatGPT – Tongyi Qianwen – which was based on Damo’s large language models (LLMs), making it one of the earliest Chinese companies to jump on the AI chatbot bandwagon.

Last week, Alibaba’s cloud computing unit open sourced two of its LLM models that were based on Tongyi Qianwen, in a move that analysts said was aimed at expanding the company’s global influence in the field of AI.


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