UK government seeks edge in global AI race with billion-dollar investment.
The UK Treasury has announced a major investment in the country’s AI future: The government will invest more than $1 billion (£900 million) in AI infrastructure. The goal is to create “BritGPT,” or large-scale AI models tailored to the country’s culture and needs.
The money will be used to build a supercomputer infrastructure for training models and a new AI research body. The exascale computer, which can perform more than a billion calculations per second, will be used for AI training and other scientific, industrial, and defense purposes, as well as modeling weather and climate predictions.
Climate change, medicine, and large language models
New hardware and AI infrastructure will help researchers better understand climate change and develop drugs faster, the government hopes.
The UK government has also noticed the buzz around large language models. It is setting up a task force to promote the UK’s sovereign competence in foundational models, including large language models like GPT-4.
Speaking to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Adrian Joseph, chief data and artificial intelligence officer at British telecoms group BT, spoke of the risk of the UK losing out to major tech companies and possibly China in areas such as cybersecurity and healthcare. The massive arms race that has been going on for some time has recently intensified, he said.
The UK government also awards an annual £1 million prize for outstanding AI research: the “Manchester Prize,” named after the “Manchester Baby,” an early forerunner of the computer developed at the University of Manchester in 1948.
More recently, the LEAM initiative in Germany announced the intention to establish a high-performance center for artificial intelligence, with the goal of Germany and Europe developing their own basic AI models.