Tokyo, Japan-based AI startup Sakana AI has secured $30 million in a seed funding round led by Lux Capital and Khosla Ventures, with participation from NTT Group, KDDI CVC, Sony Group, and several other prominent investors. Founded by former Google executives Llion Jones and David Ha, Sakana AI aims to explore a new paradigm in AI by drawing inspiration from nature, particularly fish.
Sakana, meaning fish in Japanese, signifies the startup's commitment to emulate the collective intelligence found in nature. The company's logo, featuring a school of fish forming a coherent entity, symbolizes the emergence of AI "constellations" – interconnected networks of specialized models that exhibit collective intelligence.
Sakana AI's approach involves a departure from the prevalent trend of scaling up existing AI models. Instead, the startup plans to develop foundational breakthroughs based on nature-inspired design principles. This includes creating AI models that are more flexible, adaptive, and responsive, taking cues from collective intelligence observed in complex adaptive systems.
The startup's decision to establish its headquarters in Tokyo, rather than Silicon Valley, reflects its unconventional outlook. Sakana AI believes Tokyo offers essential advantages, including strong technical infrastructure, a skilled workforce contributing to research, and opportunities to develop non-western centric models.
Llion Jones, CTO of Sakana AI and a transformer architectures pioneer, stated, "We believe current AI models are too rigid and brittle, engineered like buildings rather than able to adapt. We take inspiration from collective intelligence in nature and principles like evolution and emergence to build more flexible, responsive AI."
The startup has already announced partnerships, including collaboration with NTT to develop energy-efficient "constellations" of lightweight models.
Sakana AI's founding team consists of industry veterans from Google, Preferred Networks, Mercari, Stability AI, and other notable organizations. With the newly secured funds, the startup plans to establish a world-class AI lab in Japan and expand its team, focusing on foundational research rather than commercial products.