The Large European AI Models (LEAM) initiative, launched by the German AI Association, is concerned with the establishment of a high-performance computing centre dedicated to the development of artificial intelligence. So-called AI foundation models will have a disruptive impact on business and society. However, this paradigm shift is currently driven by US and Chinese models.
In order not to jeopardize Europe’s digital sovereignty and to start the race to catch up, the German AI Association, together with representatives from business, science, and civil society, conducted a feasibility study on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The study shows how large AI models can be developed in Germany.
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AI foundation models will lead to disruptive applications based on artificial intelligence. In the near future, this development will enable many new applications, platforms and business models in almost all areas of the economy and society. LEAM provides a roadmap on how Germany can participate in this future technology.
AI foundation models are the future.
AI foundation models are developed primarily in the US.
US models dominate the market. Since 2017, 73% of AI foundation models have come from the US and 15% from China. In the US, development is mainly driven by large technology companies with billions of dollars in investments.
Germany faces significant challenges.
There is a risk that Germany will miss the paradigm shift in the field of AI foundation models and become increasingly dependent on US models. Its digital sovereignty in the field of AI and downstream applications is acutely threatened, and with it the competitiveness of the entire German economy.
The relevance for the economy is high.
Two-thirds of the AI companies surveyed are already working with this type of models. More than 80% consider the establishment of a German ecosystem and the development of foundation models based on European values to be relevant. A number of the large companies surveyed are already experimenting with various applications and evaluating their use for internal processes and their products. The importance of these models will continue to grow.
The need for language models is particularly great.
They are followed in significance by multimodal models (38%) and models based on business and manufacturing processes (34%).
The demand for services is significant.
Businesses need applications that are tailored to their needs and use cases, based on freely available foundation models. This requires the provision of the necessary computing capacity, data pools and support for training and consultancy services.
Germany needs a powerful AI computing infrastructure.
A prerequisite for the development of Al foundation models is access to a powerful Al supercomputing infrastructure, which does not currently exist in this form in Germany.
The construction of a suitable AI computing centre in Germany is feasible in terms of hardware and software and will cost around €350-400 million. As part of this feasibility study, the LEAM (Large European Al Models) initiative has developed a concept that can provide the necessary infrastructure and associated services to develop trustworthy open-source foundation models according to European ethical standards. This will enable industry to use the foundation models developed there for their own applications.
LEAM can secure Germany’s competitiveness through joint investment.
A LEAM AI Service Center can be successfully established and operated by a joint initiative of industry, science and politics in Germany. Core funding from the public sector is supplemented by private-sector investment.
As an AI landmark, LEAM can keep skilled workers in Germany.
The brain drain to the US due to a lack of professional development opportunities in Germany is a growing problem. An AI landmark with cutting-edge projects offers the opportunity to keep talent in Germany and to train new specialists.
LEAM connects and extends the existing AI ecosystem.
As a unique initiative of industry, AI startups and research, LEAM brings together relevant players in the field of AI foundation models. The initiative is in close contact with landmark projects and companies such as OpenGPT-X, Aleph Alpha and Huggingface to leverage synergies.