First domestic chatbot MOSS to be made open source

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Photo shows the logos of ChatGPT and MOSS. [Photo/]

MOSS, the first large-scale conversational language model in China, will be made an open-source software by the end of March, according to its research and development team.

An open-source software is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change and distribute the software and its source code.

Named after the artificial intelligence-based computer that controls the space station in the popular Chinese sci-fi film The Wandering Earth II, MOSS became the first ChatGPT-like software to be unveiled in China. It was made available for public testing on Feb. 20.

Many people were quick to test the software and share their experiences online. The traffic was so heavy that the platform had to be suspended for an upgrade due to the overload.

"The plan is to have MOSS interact with humans for a month so as to optimize it. If everything goes well, it will be made open source by the end of March," Qiu Xipeng, director of the Natural Language Processing Committee of the Shanghai Computer Society, which is leading the R&D, told during the 2023 Global Artificial Intelligence Developers Conference in Shanghai on Sunday.

Qiu, who is also a professor at Fudan University's School of Computer Science and Technology, said that ChatGPT, developed by the United States-based company OpenAI, is not an open-source software and the details of its technical solutions have not been made public. Therefore, he said, there have been doubts over whether a ChatGPT-like model, based on instruction learning technology, can be successfully developed in China.

"MOSS still has a lot of room for improvement," Qiu said. "But its advent proves that the domestic scientific research team has the ability to overcome important technical challenges on the way to developing ChatGPT-like products."

The domestically developed chatbot has opened up all the technical avenues for generative language models to understand human intentions and have dialogue capabilities, he noted, adding that the project has received strong support from the Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

"Large-scale language models are almost monopolized by foreign countries. They only develop APIs (application programming interfaces) or do not open them to us," Qiu said. "We want to share MOSS and its model codes and development experiences with everyone, and hope that China can be at the forefront of the world in terms of large-scale language models."

The development threshold of pre-trained language models is very high, requiring a lot of computing power, according to the professor.

Making MOSS an open-source software can effectively reduce the threshold for the development and application of pre-trained language models, thus allowing small and medium-sized enterprises to develop various vertical products, such as smart customer service, smart home and AI lawyers on the basis of it, Qiu said.

"We look forward to the continued cooperation between the Fudan team and the Shanghai laboratory, through MOSS and subsequent research and exploration, to promote AI inclusiveness and empower the domestic AI industry as soon as possible," he added.

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