Alibaba launches AI art tool, looks to take on Midjourney

  • Alibaba has launched an AI-powered image generator similar to Midjourney and StableDiffusion.
  • It joins other Chinese tech giants in providing image generation software to businesses.
  • This software has seen more and more usage with advertisers looking for cheap, easy media as of late.

Often called “China’s Amazon”, Alibaba is one of the world’s largest ecommerce firms. Together with most of big tech, it has joined the artificial intelligence fervour and has quickly brought a series of AI-powered products to market in order to compete with its Western rivals.

On Friday, Reuters reported that Alibaba launched its latest foray in the space – an AI image-generating software similar to StableDiffusion, Midjourney, and DALL-E. It first revealed the image-maker at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference being held in Shanghai.

The ecommerce giant is calling it Tongyi Wanxian, and it is now available to its enterprise customers in a beta form. This product joins a ChatGPT-like text generator called Tongyi Qianwen, which it launched in April, and ModelScopeGPT, a generative AI developer tool.

Unlike Western firms like Google, which have only launched image editing technology powered by generative AI, software dedicated to creating images has been relatively untouched by the largest tech companies. Instead, they are seemingly content to allow the market leaders to go unchallenged in that regard.

Perhaps because technologies like StableDiffusion and Midjourney are not only free, they are quickly and readily available online. Or, perhaps the discourse around the copyright confusion of “AI art” is more prominent in the West.

It seems Chinese firms are eager for image-generating tech. Alibaba contemporaries Baidu (a search engine provider) and AI software maker SenseTime Group have both brought AI image generators to market, even though these services have yet to receive official approval from the Chinese government.

The name of the software – Tongyi Wanxiang – translates to “truth from tens of thousands of pictures” and gives an indication that it will be similar to other image generators. These software collect thousands of images from the internet and then use generative models to blend them all into new images based on user prompts.

Usage of AI-generated images has become more and more prevalent among businesses. Especially those looking for fast and cheap media. Advertisers have been one of the earliest adopters. We have seen many examples of AI-generated images on social media adverts.

Unfortunately, this means that someone somewhere is being overlooked. In this case, designers who would usually be commissioned to create the media for these adverts.

It seems just about everyone has an AI-flavoured product out these days. On Thursday, website host WordPress announced the launch of a writing tool that can write entire posts for you, complete with headlines.

This trend will continue as long as there is money to be made. According to consulting firm McKinsey, generative AI could eventually ad $7.3 trillion to the world economy every single year.

[Image – Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash]


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