Barely four months have passed since the Microsoft-backed OpenAI launched ChatGPT. The AI-powered bot has generated quite a buzz amongst its users, with tech companies racing to integrate it into their products and apps.
Most users have been left awestruck at how intelligent the AI-powered chatbot sounds, with many even pitting it to be superior to Google after witnessing its capability in giving simple solutions to complex problems.
At a time when users across the world are marveling at its potential, one country seems to have been left in the lurch, and that is China.
Though it is available across the world, the makers of ChatGPT haven’t made their AI chatbot accessible in the Asian country. But that hasn’t stopped the tech-savvy enthusiasts from using it.
According to a report by Wired, ChatGPT logins are selling like hotcakes on e-commerce platforms like Taobao—China’s biggest online site, where hundreds of thousands of merchants offer everything from iPhone cases to foreign driver’s licenses.
Till February, more than 600 online vendors were reportedly selling ChatGPT logins for prices ranging from 1-30 RMB ($0.17-$4.28). Over the months, demand has shot through the roof with some stores making thousands of sales.
However, the burgeoning popularity of ChatGPTs has also spawned many copycats. Tencent’s WeChat, for instance, reportedly has emerged the sole platform where knockoffs of the AI bot are being downloaded.
These apps are basically sub-applications on the platform like “ChatGPT Online” which offer users a handful of free questions before charging for time using a chatbot.
These intermediaries ask ChatGPT questions for users and then send the answers back.
However, many Chinese tech companies have clamped down on black market logins. According to the report, Taobao has banned keywords like OpenAI and ChatGPT whereas WeChat also restricts similar services.
Even though OpenAI hasn’t announced anything about launching ChatGPT in China, many big Chinese tech companies are trying to launch their own ChatGPT-like product.
On February 7, Baidu announced it would launch Ernie bot (“Wen Xin Yi Yan” in Chinese) for internal testing in March. The bot will be based on Ernie 3.0-Titan, a large language model that Baidu has been developing since 2019.
(With inputs from agencies)