Bridging a significant gap in the Japanese Artificial Intelligence landscape, SoftBank has unveiled SB Intuitions, a trailblazing venture committed to the creation of homegrown Large Language Models (LLMs) and generative AI, specifically focused on the Japanese language. An intriguing move towards bolstering AI infrastructure within Japan, this initiative reaffirms that technological progression isn't just a Bay Area preserve.
SoftBank's new wholly-owned subsidiary, SB Intuitions, endeavors to harness data housed in Japan-based data centers, potentially capitalizing on the parent company's extensive consumer and enterprise operations within the country. Detailed plans on how this data will be sourced are still under wraps. The groundwork for this business was laid out in March, but only today are the firm's plans and the name SB Intuitions being unveiled.
The technology giant is set to utilize its existing AI infrastructure, built on Nvidia GPUs, to facilitate the development of generative AI and other applications. This platform is scheduled to be operational before the end of March 2024.
Hironobu Tamba, a veteran SoftBank employee, will helm SB Intuitions. The company starts with a paid-in capital sum of 150 million yen, roughly $1 million. However, considering the large amounts of capital that companies such as OpenAI require to build LLMs and generative AI services, it's clear that this initial investment is just the start.
SoftBank's new LLM venture is an exciting development, given its mixed history with AI. The company has made substantial investments in AI, spending around $140 billion on approximately 400 investments. Despite this, the tech giant has found itself on the sidelines of the current AI wave. SB Intuitions aims to not only tap into the missed business opportunity but also to address a broader existential concept.
SoftBank CEO and President Junichi Miyakawa, during the presentation, emphasized the pivotal importance of generative AI technology. He noted that currently, major LLM developers are foreign companies developing AI models based on English and Chinese datasets. SB Intuitions aims to fill this gap with a homegrown AI model based on Japanese language data, more in sync with Japanese business practices and culture.
SoftBank's alliance with Microsoft will also play a crucial role in providing a secure data environment for Japanese enterprises interested in AI initiatives. SoftBank intends to create a multi-generative AI system by choosing the most suitable model for clients' needs from models developed by OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, and other companies.
Stay tuned as SB Intuitions propels Japanese AI development to new heights.