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No advanced coding skills required: NetEase launches its ChatGPT rival for enterprises to build apps with text prompts

Video gaming giant NetEase has become the latest Big Tech firm in China to unveil a ChatGPT-style service with the launch of CodeWave, an application development platform supported by the company's proprietary large language model (LLM).

CodeWave, which is a "low-code" platform, is designed to allow enterprise customers to produce simple software without needing sophisticated programming skills. Users just provide descriptions of their desired app functions, and the platform will generate the code needed to create the app, NetEase said in a live-streamed event on Tuesday.

"The value of artificial intelligence has been put at the forefront of production in our society," said Ding Lei, founder and CEO of the Hangzhou-based company. "We are entering an era of multiplied productivity."

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CodeWave forms part of NetEase's Digital Sail business, which offers services ranging from cloud computing to digitisation solutions for energy, finance, manufacturing, transport and pharmaceutical industries to move their traditional businesses online.

NetEase said it is looking to leverage the prowess of generative artificial intelligence (AI) - which refers to software that can create new text, images or video - to improve its business intelligence and asset management services.

In November, an AI arms race among tech giants was kicked off with the launch of ChatGPT, the conversational bot from Microsoft-backed US start-up OpenAI, which became a viral sensation for its ability to write coherent essays, poems and programming code.

Since 2018, NetEase has initiated research on OpenAI's GPT family of LLMs, and has worked on more than 10 supersized pre-training models in areas including natural language processing, as well as text-to-image and audio models.

But NetEase faces intense competition from domestic rivals.

NetEase's office in Beijing's Zhongguancun Software Park. Photo: Shutterstock alt=NetEase's office in Beijing's Zhongguancun Software Park. Photo: Shutterstock>

China's largest search engine operator Baidu in March released Ernie Bot, its answer to ChatGPT, while e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the South China Morning Post, introduced in April its Tongyi Qianwen model, whose name translates as "seeking truth from a thousand queries".

Baidu has been planning an Ernie Bot-powered smart cloud product, while Alibaba has embedded Tongyi Qianwen into its online collaboration tool DingTalk, which is now capable of tasks such as providing new members of a group chat with a summary of previous conversations, or writing articles based on users' prompts.

After DingTalk, Tongyi Qianwen is also expected to be integrated into Tmall Genie, Alibaba's Internet of Things-enabled smart home appliance, the company said.

Earlier this month, Tencent Holdings' cloud unit launched its next-generation high-performance computing cluster that "provides computational power for training LLMs and self-driving technologies with high bandwidth and low latency".

TikTok owner ByteDance last week updated its cloud-based, machine-learning platform that can help train LLMs with extremely low latency.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.