Alibaba’s New AI Model Can Interpret Images as AI Race Intensifies — a Forbes Company
3 min readAug 28, 2023

Key takeaways

  • The AI arms race is on, and Alibaba puts China on the map with new AI tech
  • Although OpenAI is hugely popular, Alibaba’s open-source AI is strong competition
  • Need help reading a complex sign in another language? Qwen-VL’s got you covered

Wherever you look, someone’s talking about a new AI model. AI startups are setting up every day, finding new ways to use the tech. Big companies are also involved, like Microsoft with Azure AI and IBM with Watson. And everyone knows about Apple’s Siri.

Alibaba is introducing yet another model, promising better capabilities and exciting developments. It’s almost like the robots are taking over.

With that hyperbole out of the way, let’s look at Alibaba’s AI model and what it can do.

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What is Alibaba’s new AI model?

On Friday, 25 August, Alibaba announced two updated AI models: Qwen-VL and Qwen-VL-Chat.

Alibaba says Qwen-VL-Chat is capable of complex interactions. Apparently, it can generate stories, create images based on user input, and solve mathematical equations in a photo. Great for days you don’t fancy doing your math homework.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Wait, can’t Google Lens interpret images?” like we were. While Google Lens offers text translation, similar image search, and takes text from a photo, it can’t understand photographs in the same way as Qwen-VL.

Alibaba used a hospital sign as an example of Qwen-VL-Chat’s capabilities. The model can interpret the image, localize the text, and answer questions about the photograph, such as what floor a department is on.

Alibaba’s new models will also be open-source, which is great news for researchers and businesses who will save valuable training time and money.

And aside from the cool tech stuff, you’re probably wondering how it affected BABA’s price. It’s looking fairly underwhelming for now, with less than 1% gained since Friday’s announcement. BABA has seen pretty extreme highs and lows over the last year, reaching peaks of $121.30 and lows of $58. It’s currently sitting at just above $90.

What is Alibaba competing against in the AI race?

You’ve probably heard of OpenAI, which owns ChatGPT. Ironically, the name doesn’t mean that it’s open-source. OpenAI’s GPT-4 model offers the same image interpretation ability and much more, but their model isn’t free. That could give Alibaba’s Qwen-VL a leg-up, but OpenAI’s popularity will be hard to overcome.

Another competitor is Google’s Bard, its answer to ChatGPT. It’s a little behind at the moment, but we’re sure it’ll catch up in no time with Google’s resources.

The bottom line

Alibaba’s new AI model looks promising, especially as it’s open-source, allowing everyone to use it. We’ll see how the release impacts BABA’s price over the next few months, considering analysts have high hopes for the stock.

While tech giants battle to create better AI models, we think ours is already pretty nifty. You can get in on tech advances with’s AI-powered Emerging Tech Kit for portfolio exposure to cutting-edge stuff. Our AI picks out the best options across the industry every week while balancing risk and reward. That leaves you plenty of time to worry about the robot takeover, not your portfolio.

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-- — a Forbes Company

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