In a groundbreaking move set to transform the future of AI research, French billionaire Xavier Niel, CEO of Iliad, unveiled Kyutai, a visionary AI research lab aimed at pioneering artificial general intelligence. At Scaleway’s ai-PULSE conference, Niel shared additional details about this ambitious venture, highlighting an impressive budget of $330 million earmarked for Kyutai and a commitment to an open-source philosophy, according to a report by TechCrunch.
Originally announced with an investment of €100 million, Kyutai's financial backing has surged to nearly €300 million, with support pouring in from various sources. Notably, Rodolphe Saadé, CEO of French shipping giant CMA CGM, contributed an additional €100 million, joined by smaller backers like Eric Schmidt's foundation and undisclosed donors. This wave of support positions Kyutai as an attractive venture for potential investors keen on reshaping the AI landscape.
Bolstering this visionary initiative, Scaleway, a division of Iliad, recently acquired a formidable arsenal of a thousand Nvidia H100 GPUs. These cutting-edge GPUs, crucial for model training and inference, will be made available to Kyutai at cost, providing the computational power necessary for groundbreaking research.
At the core of Kyutai’s ambitions lies a team of accomplished AI experts. This ensemble includes former luminaries from Meta's AI research team FAIR, Google's DeepMind division, and Inria. Spearheading the lab’s direction, Patrick Perez, with a background at Valeo, assumes the role of director, supported by an advisory team comprising renowned AI researchers like Yejin Choi, Yann LeCun, and Bernhard Schölkopf.
One distinguishing factor setting Kyutai apart is its commitment to open science. Contrary to the trend of limiting scientific publications at tech giants, Kyutai champions transparency and contribution to the greater good by allowing researchers to publish their findings, fostering an environment conducive to advancing research.
While similar initiatives, such as OpenAI's transformation into a corporate entity, exist, Kyutai sets itself apart by championing open-source AI and "open science." The lab aims not only to release open-source models but also provide the training source code and data behind these models, aiming for transparency and comprehensive understanding.
In an era where AI innovation intertwines with regulatory scrutiny, France’s stance on the EU's AI Act holds significance. French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized the importance of regulating use cases, not model makers, to ensure safe and ethical AI services, a view echoed by Niel during the conference.
Niel emphasized the criticality of innovation over stringent regulation, expressing concerns about potential barriers hindering European newcomers. As Kyutai steps into uncharted territories, its quest for groundbreaking AI research aligns with France's vision of fostering innovation while ensuring responsible AI deployment.
With Kyutai spearheading an open-source revolution and embracing transparency, the future of AI innovation is poised for an evolutionary leap, transforming the landscape of AI research and shaping the way forward for responsible AI deployment in Europe.