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Alibaba Cloud and Fudan University Launch China's Largest Cloud-based Scientific Research Platform

Updated: Jan 2

Alibaba's cloud computing subsidiary collaborates with Fudan University to unveil an expansive cloud-based research and computing platform, reinforcing support for AI initiatives.

Alibaba Cloud
Credits: Shutterstock

Alibaba Group Holding's cloud computing services subsidiary, in conjunction with Shanghai's esteemed Fudan University, has introduced the nation's most extensive cloud-powered scientific research and intelligent computing platform for universities. The strategic partnership deepens ties between Alibaba's business unit and prominent public institutions while bolstering its commitment to advancing artificial intelligence (AI) endeavor.


Named Computing for the Future at Fudan (CFFF), the pioneering platform's primary objective, as disclosed by Alibaba Cloud, is to facilitate the training of large AI models, specifically significant language models (LLMs), to drive scientific research. The Hangzhou-based parent company, Alibaba, is also the proprietor of the South China Morning Post.

Alibaba Cloud founder Wang Jian, speaking at a ceremony held at the university campus, highlighted the significance of making cloud computing accessible to all students, stating, "In universities, professors may be able to afford cloud computing [services] with scientific research funds, but not every student can afford it. I hope that everyone can use cloud computing to realise their scientific research ideals."


China Telecom, the nation's leading fixed-line network operator and a prominent domestic cloud services provider, played a pivotal role in the development of this cutting-edge computing platform. This comes shortly after China Telecom announced plans to establish a vast computing center in Shanghai, augmenting the city's AI industry. The CFFF project, described by Wang as a 15-year-long aspiration come true, demonstrates China's ambitious commitment to generative AI. This investment aims to revitalise the national economy, which has been burdened by debt and hindered by a sluggish post-coronavirus recovery, while also propelling the country's pursuit of technological supremacy over the United States.


LLMs represent deep-learning AI algorithms capable of recognising, summarising, translating, predicting and generating content using extensive datasets. They underpin the technology employed to train AI chatbots such as Microsoft-backed OpenAI's ChatGPT.


Jin Li, the president of Fudan University, expressed the institution's aspirations to construct several world-class models using CFFF, focusing on disciplines encompassing life sciences, material science and integrated circuits.

In April, Alibaba Cloud, led by Daniel Zhang Yong, who will step down as the parent group's chairman and chief executive in September, unveiled its alternative to ChatGPT, named Tongyi Qianwen. Cloud computing services provided by Alibaba and other vendors empower enterprises to procure, vend, lease, or distribute diverse software and digital resources as an on-demand service via the internet, similar to electricity from a power grid. These resources are managed within data centers.


“Enterprises and universities should join hands in innovation and talent training,” emphasised Jin, as quoted in Fudan University's WeChat post regarding the comprehensive strategic cooperation with Alibaba Cloud. Echoing this sentiment, Wang from Alibaba Cloud expressed his anticipation for deeper integration of production and education between the two entities.


Although specific details regarding the collaboration between Alibaba Cloud and Fudan University were not divulged, expectations are high that both parties will contribute to fostering new local AI talent. Chinese state media recently rallied support for generative AI, highlighting its potential to stimulate economic growth and become an indispensable tool in everyday life, as exemplified by ChatGPT and similar services. A People's Daily op-ed published earlier this month extolled the technology's transformative capabilities.


Simultaneously, Alibaba's Cloud Intelligence Group is anticipated to transition into an independent entity within the next year, as part of the e-commerce giant's comprehensive restructuring plan. This move will eventually pave the way for a separate public listing, affording greater autonomy to the Cloud Intelligence Group.

 
  • Alibaba Cloud and Fudan University launch China's largest cloud-based scientific research and intelligent computing platform for universities.

  • The Computing for the Future at Fudan (CFFF) platform aims to train large AI models for scientific research.

  • China Telecom also played a significant role in the platform's development.

  • LLMs, deep-learning AI algorithms, are utilised for training purposes.

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