Billionaire Xavier Niel is investing €200 million ($212 million) in artificial intelligence.
These funds will be divided among several projects, including the construction of a research laboratory, which will be located in Paris, the development of cloud supercomputers based on equipment manufactured by Nvidia, and sponsorship of financial support for startups operating in the advanced technology industry.
The billionaire, while talking to media representatives, said that his efforts are aimed at bringing back French engineers who left the country to work in large technology companies. According to him, the goal is to provide specialists with conditions and opportunities to create products that can compete with OpenAI’s chatbots based on artificial intelligence.
Experts say that the race for leadership in the sphere of machine intelligence has contributed to the strengthening of geopolitical rivalry. This is due to the fact that countries are striving to use AI technologies to ensure economic growth and influence. Politicians rushed to take part in this process in order to create a foundation of guarantees that their countries will not remain on the periphery of the global innovation transformation.
Xavier Niel stated his unwillingness for French cloud services and artificial intelligence technologies to be based on algorithms and machines that are localized in other countries. Separately, he talked about the danger of the dominance of Chinese or American technological solutions.
According to the billionaire, the one who becomes rich and influential starts to act slowly, and this feature is the reason that startups outperform large companies. This remark is relevant in the context of the state of affairs in the area of artificial intelligence, where a significant part of the developments were created by specialists of firms at the initial stage of existence. At the same time, major players in the technology sector often interact with startups. For example, Microsoft invested in OpenAI.
Half of the billionaire’s investments will be directed to the construction of an independent research laboratory in Paris, which will be managed by a non-profit foundation. The media, citing sources, report that leading artificial intelligence researchers will work in this laboratory. This organization will receive support from Niel’s telecommunications group, the parent company of the Scaleway cloud computing firm.
Xavier Niel says that researchers from French schools, including polytechnic universities and ENS, work in any artificial intelligence laboratory in the world.
Investments will also be directed to supercomputing capacities, including the purchase of Nvidia DGX SuperPod equipped with 1016 Tensore Core H100 GPUs designed for machine learning and generative AI.
The Iliad Scaleway cloud arm will use capabilities located in a data center in Saint-Ouen-L’Aumont, near Paris. These capabilities are necessary for training clients and operating artificial intelligence models with a large number of languages. Iliad claims that it is the most powerful supercomputer in Europe for machine intelligence research.
Part of Xavier Niel’s investment funds will be provided to such startups as Mistral AI and Poolside AI, whose American founders decided to be based in Paris.
As we have reported earlier, Amazon to Invest in AI Startup Anthropic.