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- AI Tech in the Spotlight: Saudi-China Partnerships
AI Tech in the Spotlight: Saudi-China Partnerships
The intricate balance of power, tech, and partnerships in the Gulf region
I. Background & Context:
Saudi Arabia, in its bid to be a forerunner in AI technologies, has teamed up with Chinese institutions. However, this move is causing ripples of concern over the potential disruption of access to essential US-made AI chips.
Professor Jinchao Xu of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Kaust) initiated AceGPT, a project focusing on an Arabic-centric large language model.
Collaborative institutions include the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and the Shenzhen Research Institute of Big Data.
This development is part of Saudi's larger plan to lead AI innovations in the region.
II. Concerns in the West:
Historically, Western countries have been wary of the technology exchange between the Gulf states and China.
Points of Concern:
The US has limited the export of Nvidia and AMD graphics processing units, essential for AI models, to Chinese entities.
Collaborations with China might complicate Gulf countries' attempts to secure these vital chips.
As quoted, insiders at Kaust are worried that "the Chinese relationships jeopardise the supercomputer" and could strain relations with the US.
III. AI: The New Regional Battleground
AI has turned into a focal point for competition between China and the US in the Gulf.
Both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are striving to bolster tech collaborations with China while maintaining security partnerships with the US.
Abu Dhabi boasts a new powerful AI model, the Falcon, claiming superiority over Meta’s Llama 2.
G42, an Emirati company, has also released an Arabic-centric large language model.
IV. The University's Perspective
Kaust is eager to collaborate with China, with an increasing number of Chinese students and researchers.
Chinese universities are seen as a resource for cost-effective interns proficient in tasks like data analysis.
However, Kaust has clarified that GPU testing isn't performed by students but by dedicated vendors and staff.
On international collaborations, Kaust emphasized the presence of stringent, compliance-driven access controls to their infrastructure.
V. The Supercomputer Project
Kaust is on the verge of launching a formidable supercomputer, Shaheen III.
This supercomputer promises 20 times the power of its predecessor.
In its development, they've partnered with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), which has opted for Nvidia chips.
Kaust maintains that it aligns with US export controls and has systems in place to ensure security and restricted access to Shaheen III.
In summary, while Saudi Arabia's ambition to spearhead AI developments is clear, the road ahead, filled with intricate international partnerships and geopolitical implications, is complex. The balance of technological advancement and diplomatic harmony is delicate and will be fascinating to observe in the coming years
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