UAE Funds Open-Source Generative AI with Falcon Foundation

UAE Develops Open-Source Generative AI with Falcon Foundation

The Technology of Innovation Institute (TII) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has launched the Falcon Foundation, a non-profit organization to spearhead the development of open-source generative AI models.

The Falcon Foundation was launched at the World Governments Summit (WGS) 2024 in a move that should see collaboration in creating transparent governance models and inspire knowledge sharing in the fast-growing AI industry.

As part of the program, the TII has also made a commitment to provide the Foundation with $300 million to fund the projects.

Accelerating tech development

Based in Abu Dhabi, the TII is a government-funded initiative that is part of the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), which oversees tech research in the emirate.

The Falcon Foundation’s main focus is to push for the development of open-source generative AI models as well as develop a sustainable ecosystem around open-source projects that boost tech development in the UAE.

Commenting on the launch, ATRC secretary general H.E. Faisal AI Bannai said the Foundation will enhance AI growth in the UAE.

“In a world where AI continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, initiatives like the Falcon Foundation play a crucial role in steering the trajectory of AI development towards greater transparency and accessibility,” he said in a statement.

The development comes as researchers and developers are increasingly favoring open-source AI, which refers to making source code, data, and tools for AI development “publicly accessible and accessible for anyone to use, modify, and share.”

Now, the Foundation will start off with the TII’s homegrown Falcon AI models, convening stakeholders, developers, academia, and industry. The Falcon Foundation is also expected to speed up the democratization of AI, leveraging the Foundation’s ambassadors, universities, professors in AI, and key industry players around the world.

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Why open-source?

According to Tekedia, open source creates room for collaboration, innovation, and transparency in the AI industry.

“It also lowers the barriers to entry and fosters a more diverse and inclusive AI ecosystem,” according to Tekedia.

TII CEO Dr. Ray O. Johnson highlighted the institution’s commitment to “fostering transparency and collaboration in AI.”

“Extending the UAE’s collaborative spirit into AI development, we set new standards for openness, and we encourage all other entities that support open source from around the world to join us,” said Dr. Johnson.

By enabling open computing resources for continued research and development of Falcon AI, “the Foundation will provide a robust ecosystem to ensure the adaptability of the models across a broad spectrum of applications and contexts.”

The Foundation is also expected to support the customization of the Falcon models to address specific industries or sectors.

UAE and AI

The launch of the foundation is expected to leapfrog the UAE into a tech-driven future, as the country also wants to become a force to be reckoned with in AI technology.

According to PWC, the UAE is leading the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) enthusiasm for the use and development of generative AI, with its adoption “standing out on the global stage.”

A report by Research and Markets indicates that the UAE will be one of the key markets for AI in the region. In 2020, the AI market in the UAE was valued at $290 million and is projected to balloon to $1.9 billion by 2026, while the entire market in the Middle East and Africa will reach an estimated $8.4 billion within the same timeframe.

A study by Protiviti Middle East shows that AI is fast gaining traction, with 80% of CEOs in the Middle East believing AI is critical to their businesses, while 70% are already investing in the technology.

UAE should lead in AI adoption by leveraging its National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, which emphasizes innovation hubs, talent attraction and retention, appropriate infrastructure, and funding research to propel the country as a global AI hub.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.

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