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UAE center unveils Falcon LLM, 'better, faster' ChatGPT rival

The model claims to use only 75 percent of GPT-3’s training compute time, and 40 and 80 percent of DeepMind’s Chinchilla NLP and Google’s PaLM-62B compute times, respectively.
This photo illustration shows the ChatGPT logo at an office in Washington, DC, on March 15, 2023. - The company behind the ChatGPT app that churns out essays, poems or computing code on command released on March 14, 2023, a long-awaited update of its artificial intelligence (AI) technology that it said would be safer and more accurate than its predecessor. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

DUBAI — Abu Dhabi’s Technology Innovation Institute (TII) this week launched a rival to the generative artificial intelligence (AI) platform that powers the likes of ChatGPT3, claiming their foundational large language model (LLM), named Falcon LLM, performs better. 

Falcon LLM, like Open AI’s popular ChatGPT3, learns language by training on large amounts of digital text data to generate advanced conversational abilities that allow human-like exchanges and can interpret nuance to the level of writing speeches and poetry, answering questions, and giving advice.

To do so, Falcon LLM said it uses 40 billion parameters, or parts of the model learned from historical training data, compared to ChatGPT3’s 175 billion, to teach its deep learning tool Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3), which it claims can outperform the language processing power of existing models. 

Falcon LLM claims to use only 75 percent of GPT-3’s training compute time, and 40 and 80 percent of DeepMind’s Chinchilla NLP and Google’s PaLM-62B compute times, respectively. 

The AI and Digital Science Research Center’s (AIDRC) AI Cross-Center Unit built Falcon LLM, and before that created Noor, the world’s largest Arabic language mode — possibly hinting that their model could better digitally converse in Arabic language. 

Ebtesam Almazroui, AIDRC’s director and project lead of Falcon LLM, said that in addition to beating other model compute times, the new product  has lower training costs. 

“We are thrilled to announce the ground-breaking achievement of our Falcon LLM 40B model which significantly outperforms models like BLOOM and GPT-3, even at a fraction of the size,” she said in the press release. 

Ray O. Johnson, TII’s CEO, said more Falcon LLM developments will be announced in 2023. He added that this technology will give the region its own AI success stories in line with the UAE’s national 2031 AI strategy to develop the country's education, government and energy sectors. 

AI, being implemented in almost all industries, is set to make up almost 14 percent of the national GDP by 2030 according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

TII stated that its model will enable on-premises solutions for companies and governments to maintain data privacy, and advance the UAE government’s capabilities with AI. 

In early February, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced that it will use ChatGPT to improve its customer and employee services, claiming to be the first UAE government entity and the first utility company globally to do so.

Mohammed AlKaff AlHashmi, co-founder and chief business officer of the UAE-based digital financial services nonprofit Haqq Association, told Al-Monitor last month, “It’s very important for companies like DEWA to acquire real-time data of its users to build forecasting analysis.” AI programs, he said, can help companies to accurately predict how consumers will behave in the future.

But Kurt Muehmel, a strategic advisor at Everyday AI company Dataiku, said that using the AI tool for any critical function would be unlikely and premature. 

“I would advise them to proceed with caution,” he said, because although the current technologies are very good at producing text, they can't be guaranteed to be truthful, he told Al-Monitor in February.

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