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How does Falcon 2 series reinforce Abu Dhabi's position as a key player in AI innovation?

How does Falcon 2 series reinforce Abu Dhabi's position as a key player in AI innovation?
13 May 2024 21:34

MOHAMMAD GHAZAL (ABU DHABI)

Taking a significant leap forward in the Emirate’s position as a key player in AI, Abu Dhabi’s Technology Innovation Institute (TII) on Monday launched the next generation of its renowned large language model (LLM) - Falcon 2: Falcon 2 11B, a text-based model, and Falcon 2 11B VLM, a vision-to-language model that can generate a text description of an uploaded image.

Falcon 2 11B is not just another LLM. It is a more efficient and accessible model trained on a massive dataset of 5.5 trillion tokens with 11 billion parameters.

Likewise, Falcon 2 11B VLM stands out as TII’s first multimodal model – the only one currently in the top tier market that has image-to-text conversion capability. This heralds a significant advancement in AI innovation, opening up new possibilities for AI applications across various sectors.

What sets Falcon 2 11B VLM apart is its VLM capabilities, which enable seamless conversion of visual inputs into textual outputs, a groundbreaking advancement in multimodal AI technology. Both models are multilingual.

Falcon 2 11B models, equipped with multilingual capabilities, seamlessly tackle tasks in English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and various other languages, enriching their versatility and magnifying their effectiveness across diverse scenarios.

Falcon 2 11B VLM has the capability to identify and interpret images and visuals from the environment, providing a wide range of applications across industries such as healthcare, finance, e-commerce, education, and legal sectors. These applications range from document management, digital archiving, and context indexing to supporting individuals with visual impairments.

Furthermore, these models can run efficiently on just one graphics processing unit (GPU), making them highly scalable, and easy to deploy and integrate into lighter infrastructures like laptops and other devices.

AI for Global Good
Investment in AI for the good of humanity has been at the core of Abu Dhabi’s efforts in optimal deployment of the latest technologies.

Abu Dhabi’s strategic investments in AI highlight the emirate’s commitment to harnessing the transformative power of technology for the benefit of humanity.

In March this year, the Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Technology Council (AIATC) announced the creation of MGX, a technology investment company to enable the advancement and deployment of leading edge technologies intended to improve the lives of current and future generations.

The company will invest to accelerate the development and adoption of AI and advanced technologies through world-leading partnerships both in the UAE and globally. MGX’s investment strategy will focus on three main areas: AI infrastructure (including data centres and connectivity); semiconductors (including logic and memory chip design and manufacturing); and AI core technologies and applications (including AI models, software, data, life sciences and robotics).

Just last month, G42, the leading Abu Dhabi-based AI technology holding company, and Microsoft Corp. announced a $1.5 billion strategic investment by Microsoft in G42. The investment will strengthen the two companies’ collaboration on bringing the latest Microsoft AI technologies and skilling initiatives to the UAE and other countries around the world.

Experts praised the move as a strategic investment that will enhance the UAE’s position as a global AI hub and provide further opportunities for partners and customers to innovate and grow.

A Valuable Contribution
Eid Swais, Chairman of ICT Association of Jordan (int@j), expressed his enthusiasm for the recent release of the Falcon 2 AI model by the TII.

“The release of Falcon 2 positions the UAE at the cutting edge of AI innovation, potentially catalysing economic growth and technological advancements in the region,” Swais told Aletihad.

He highlighted the distinctiveness of Falcon 2, emphasising its status as an open-source model equipped with a highly advanced and powerful engine.

“This release is not just a technological achievement; it is a valuable contribution to the global AI community, fostering increased collaboration and innovation. The versatility of Falcon 2 could transform Abu Dhabi into a hub for developing AI solutions across various languages and modalities,” he added.

Swais also noted the potential for attracting significant investment and partnerships from leading global tech giants and startups, further enhancing the region’s technological ecosystem.

“Congratulations to TII, the UAE, and the Arab world for this remarkable success, solidifying its position as a leader in AI research and development,” added Swais.

Personalised Learning Experiences
Also speaking to Aletihad, Dr. Mohammad Sharafa, an expert in smart systems and a PhD holder in AI and Internet of Things, said these models can power intelligent tutoring systems, providing personalised learning experiences by generating explanations, summaries, or quizzes based on educational materials and student interactions.

In healthcare, these models can assist in medical image analysis and report generation, automate medical transcription, or provide virtual assistants for patient consultations and symptom analysis, Sharafa said.

“Integrating these models into smart city infrastructure can enable applications such as traffic monitoring and management, public safety surveillance, and environmental monitoring with real-time image analysis and description,” he added.

Abu Dhabi’s investment in these AI models comes with multiple benefits at the economic, social and technological levels, he noted, adding that this can attract tech companies and investors, leading to long-term economic growth and development.

In a statement on Monday, the TII said that Falcon 2 11B, which has been tested against several prominent AI models in its class among pre-trained models, surpasses the performance of Meta’s newly launched Llama 3 with 8 billion parameters (8B), and performs on par with Google’s Gemma 7B at first place (Falcon 2 11B: 64.28 vs Gemma 7B: 64.29), as independently verified by Hugging Face, a US-based platform hosting an objective evaluation tool and global leaderboard for open LLMs.

More importantly, Falcon 2 11B and 11B VLM are both open-source, empowering developers worldwide with unrestricted access.

In the near future, there are plans to broaden the Falcon 2 next-generation models, introducing a range of sizes. These models will be further enhanced with advanced machine learning capabilities like “Mixture of Experts” (MoE), aimed at pushing their performance to even more sophisticated levels.

“With the release of Falcon 2 11B, we have introduced the first model in the Falcon 2 series. While Falcon 2 11B has demonstrated outstanding performance, we reaffirm our commitment to the open-source movement with it, and to the Falcon Foundation… With other multimodal models soon coming to the market in various sizes, our aim is to ensure that developers and entities that value their privacy, have access to one of the best AI models to enable their AI journey,” H.E. Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of ATRC and Strategic Research and Advanced Technology Affairs Advisor to the UAE President, said in a statement Monday.

Commenting on the occasion, Dr. Hakim Hacid, Executive Director and Acting Chief Researcher of the AI Cross-Center Unit at TII, said: “AI is continually evolving, and developers are recognising the myriad benefits of smaller, more efficient models."

“In addition to reducing computing power requirements and meeting sustainability criteria, these models offer enhanced flexibility, seamlessly integrating into edge AI infrastructure, the next emerging megatrend. Furthermore, the vision-to-language capabilities of Falcon 2 open new horizons for accessibility in AI, empowering users with transformative image to text interactions,” Hacid added.

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