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Abu Dhabi's bold plan to launch a rival to Open AI and Google AI
#UAE #LLMs - Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) plans to announce the launch of a new AI company by the end of this year, to challenge ChatGPT creator OpenAI, and others. The news that Abu Dhabi is about to disrupt the global AI business was revealed by ATRC Secretary-general, Faisal al-Bannai, in an exclusive interview with The Economist.
SO WHAT? - The burgeoning AI industry being built around large language models (LLMs) is currently dominated by US firms OpenAI, Google, Meta and Microsoft, effectively ensuring that the biggest slice of economic opportunity for related AI software and services will be taken by America. By creating a new LLM competitor based out of Abu Dhabi's fast growing AI R&D ecosystem, the emirate could both ensure that more technology investment goes into its own economy, and help to catalyze the region's software sector by providing developers with core technology closer to home.
Abu Dhabi requires two things to develop market-leading AI models: access to the latest high performance computing systems and the brightest AI R&D talent. So far, its research institutes and government-backed companies have succeeded in securing both, creating access to huge compute capacity and hiring top talent from around the world.
The emirate's research and development community has expanded dramatically over the past five years, beginning with just a few dozen researchers and developers, to numbers that can be counted in the low thousands today. Much of this community is either directly involved in computational R&D projects, or using advanced AI to support the research in their domains.
The applied research arm of the ATRC, Technology Innovation Institute (TII) has already developed a series of world-class large language models: Falcon 7B, Falcon 40B and Falcon 180B. According to TII, 12 million developers downloaded the Falcon 40B model, which was open-sourced in May. Meanwhile, the more resource-hungry Falcon 180B has already been downloaded more than 45,000 times, since its release as an open access model on September 6th.
Falcon 180B outperformed global competitors like Meta’s LLaMA 2 in various benchmarks, including reasoning, coding, proficiency, and knowledge tests, according to Hugging Face.
ZOOM IN - According to the newspaper's story, the new company will provide an end-to-end platform for AI developers, help to democratise access to AI, and develop proprietary domain-specific AI models and applications for industry and government. Future development will include multi-modal AI models that can process images, audio and video, plus new models for Edge computing.
QUOTED - “We are entering the game to disrupt the core players” - Faisal al-Bannai, secretary-general, Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), quoted in The Economist.
IMO - The global market for large language models and the Generative AI platforms that they provide has exploded following the launch of OpenAI's ChatGPT last year, but 10 months on, we're now able to take a view with a little more perspective. Google Bard and Google's new GenAI integrations with its Google Apps platform, show that this is anything but a one-horse race. Meanwhile, ChatGPT usage began to fall in June, from its height of more than 400 million user visits per week. Although the technology is growing faster than any other technology has ever grown, we are still at the very beginning of the journey.
Abu Dhabi's new AI company doesn't have to dominate the LLM platform, services or app sector to become highly successful. There are many ways to differentiate such a venture, right from how it engages with third party developers and partners with other technology companies, to the focus of its product portfolio, through to the specific apps and services it creates or supports. Then there is the regional context, where having access to a development team and support services 'on your doorstep', might appeal to a lot of developers in EMEA and the Indian subcontinent.
AI, without doubt has the potential to be the most disruptive technology in history. Abu Dhabi is fortunate to have the choice of allowing itself to be disrupted, or become a disruptor. The latter is an exciting prospect! Abu Dhabi has every chance of creating a world-class AI platform provider and now has the infrastructure and resources it needs to build one very quickly.
Abu Dhabi throws surprise challenge into the AI race (The Economist)
TII announces Falcon 180B LLM (Middle East AI News)
Will GenAI champion the Arabic language? (Middle East AI News)
R&D moves up Abu Dhabi's agenda (Middle East AI News)
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