Abu Dhabi’s Falcon 180B: A new contender in the AI race

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has recently unveiled its latest achievement in artificial intelligence (AI): Falcon 180B, a massive generative AI model that can create text, images, and audio from natural language prompts. The model, which is the world’s most powerful open-source AI model, has been released by the Technology Innovation Institute (TII), a government research institute that is part of the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC).

What is Falcon 180B and why is it important?

Falcon 180B is a deep learning model that uses neural networks to generate various types of content based on natural language inputs. For example, given a prompt such as “write a poem about love”, the model can produce a coherent and original poem in response. The model can also generate images, audio, and code from text prompts, as well as answer questions and summarize texts.

Abu Dhabi’s Falcon 180B: A new contender in the AI race
Abu Dhabi’s Falcon 180B: A new contender in the AI race

Falcon 180B is named after the number of parameters it has: 180 billion. Parameters are the numerical values that determine how the model processes data and learns from it. The more parameters a model has, the more complex and powerful it is. For comparison, Chat GPT-3, one of the most famous generative AI models, has 175 billion parameters.

Falcon 180B is also open-source, meaning that anyone can access and use it for free. This is a rare feature among large-scale AI models, which are usually proprietary and expensive to use. By making Falcon 180B available to the public, Abu Dhabi aims to democratize access to AI and foster innovation and collaboration among researchers and developers.

How does Falcon 180B compare to other AI models?

According to some commonly used benchmarks compiled by Hugging Face, a library of AI models, Falcon 180B outperforms the previous open-source champion, Meta’s LLAMA2, which has 137 billion parameters. A blog post by Hugging Face staff suggests that Falcon 180B is “on par” with Google’s PaLM2, which has 190 billion parameters and is not open-source.

Falcon 180B also claims to have some unique features that distinguish it from other models. For instance, it can generate content in multiple languages, including Arabic, English, French, German, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu. It can also handle different domains and tasks, such as natural language understanding, natural language generation, computer vision, speech synthesis, and programming.

What are Abu Dhabi’s AI ambitions?

Abu Dhabi’s release of Falcon 180B is not an isolated event. It is part of a broader strategy to become a global leader in AI and diversify its economy away from oil dependence. Faisal al-Bannai, the secretary-general of ATRC, says that Abu Dhabi is “entering the game to disrupt the core players” in the AI field. He says that later this year ATRC will announce the launch of a state-backed AI company to compete with leading lights such as OpenAI, the creator of Chat GPT-3.

Abu Dhabi has also invested heavily in building its AI infrastructure and talent pool. It has launched several initiatives to promote AI research and education, such as Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the world’s first graduate-level university dedicated to AI; ADNOC X Labs, an innovation hub for developing AI solutions for the energy sector; and Ghadan 21, a $13.6 billion stimulus program that supports AI projects and startups.

Abu Dhabi’s efforts to establish itself as a major player in the AI race have attracted attention and praise from experts and observers around the world. However, they also face some challenges and risks. For example, some critics have raised ethical and social concerns about the potential misuse or abuse of powerful AI models like Falcon 180B. Others have questioned whether Abu Dhabi can sustain its AI momentum and compete with more established and influential rivals like the US and China.

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