Tuesday, July 11, 2023

"Kai-Fu Lee launches AI start-up to seize on ‘historical opportunity’ to build Chinese LLMs"

Or Lee, Kai-Fu when in Asia. About whom we've written:

Sensei Kai-Fu Lee on AI in 2041
Yes, yes, in the headline I am mixing-and-matching two ancient Asian cultures but, despite his having been born on Taiwan Dr. Lee really is a sensei in the Japanese meaning of being both master and teacher....

From The South China Morning Post, July 4:

  • Lee’s new company Lingyi Wanwu, headquartered in Beijing, plans to develop its own large language model from scratch, according to Sinovation Ventures
  • The former head of Google China said China can only gain a competitive edge in the field of AI by creating its own LLMs rather than relying on foreign technology

Lee Kai-fu, a prominent venture capitalist and former president of Google China, has unveiled his new artificial intelligence (AI) start-up, which aims to build its own large language model (LLM) as Chinese firms race to catch up with their US peers, including ChatGPT maker OpenAI.

Lee’s new company Lingyi Wanwu, headquartered in Beijing, has assembled dozens of core members that include former executives from Big Tech firms such as Alibaba Group Holding, Baidu and Didi Chuxing, according to Sinovation Ventures, a venture capital firm run by Lee, in a WeChat article published on Monday.

Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.

Sinovation said Lingyi Wanwu plans to take “the most difficult path”: developing its own LLM from scratch.

China had at least 79 LLMs with more than one billion parameters as of May and the number is still increasing as investors and entrepreneurs rush to tap the Chinese market, which is likely to remain closed to ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

The investment frenzy has already fanned debates on whether China has poured too much money into LLMs, which are expensive to develop partly because the process requires many advanced chips.

Lee appears unfazed by the scepticism, saying that LLMs presents a “historical opportunity” that China must not miss, according to Sinovation.

If the country keeps relying on open-source models built by foreign companies, the firm said, it will face risks such as high fees and restricted access. Only by developing its own LLMs can China gain a competitive edge in the field of AI, Lee was quoted as saying....

In addition to the Google gig he has done some other stuff.

"If You Read Only One Column On Artificial Intelligence This Month..."
Back in May we thumbnailed Lee Kai-fu as "Sometimes the competition is just plain intimidating/scary/resistance-is-futile, smart."
Followed by his mini-bio from Edge.org:

"KAI-FU LEE, the founder of the Beijing-based Sinovation Ventures, is ranked #1 in technology in China by Forbes. Educated as a computer scientist at Columbia and Carnegie Mellon, his distinguished career includes working as a research scientist at Apple; Vice President of the Web Products Division at Silicon Graphics; Corporate Vice President at Microsoft and founder of Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, one of the world’s top research labs; and then Google Corporate President and President of Google Greater China. As an Internet celebrity, he has fifty million+ followers on the Chinese micro-blogging website Weibo. As an author, among his seven bestsellers in the Chinese language, two have sold more than one million copies each. His first book in English is AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order (forthcoming, September)

The computer brainiacs at IEEE Spectrum are fans, linked in "AI: 'Kai-Fu Lee'". 

If interested see also: