Britain lacks computing energy for AI, CMA warns

Sep 19, 2023 | blog

Cloud suppliers within the UK should not have the most recent chips, which might hamper these attempting to develop “foundation model” AI reminiscent of ChatGPT and Bard, the Competition and Markets Authority mentioned.

The regulator additionally warned there was a hazard that huge expertise corporations would consolidate their energy in basis fashions. It is investigating the muse mannequin market and has launched its preliminary findings.

The most succesful basis fashions reminiscent of ChatGPT (OpenAI), Bard (Google) and Claude (Anthropic) have been developed utilizing enormous computing and knowledge sources. OpenAI reportedly spent greater than $100 million growing GPT-4, the most recent model of ChatGPT. However, entry to essentially the most subtle chips or GPUs (graphics processing items) made by Nvidia is expensive and at the moment restricted as a result of enormous demand.

In a piece on boundaries to entry, the regulator states that not one of the three largest cloud service suppliers primarily based in Britain have the most recent Nvidia chips obtainable. It says this could possibly be an issue for British builders engaged on basis fashions that have to be skilled on delicate or private knowledge, as there could be restrictions on storing the info internationally.

In March, a evaluate commissioned by the federal government concluded that Britain had fallen behind Russia, Italy and Finland on the earth league desk for computing energy.

As of November final yr, the UK had solely a 1.3 per cent share of the worldwide compute capability and didn’t have a system within the high 25 of essentially the most highly effective international methods. Its strongest system, Archer2, the nationwide computing service, ranks twenty eighth.

The evaluate mentioned there have been fewer than 1,000 high-end Nvidia chips obtainable to researchers and beneficial that at the least 3,000 “top-spec” GPUs be made obtainable as quickly as doable.

The authorities is working to deal with this by spending £900 million on a supercomputer that can be primarily based in Bristol. It is in talks to purchase £100 million price of Nvidia chips for AI coaching.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly purchased at the least 3,000 of Nvidia’s newest AI chips, the H100, which price $40,000 every. By comparability, the American start-up Inflection AI, which has developed the chatbot Pi, is constructing the most important synthetic intelligence cluster on the earth comprising 22,000 H100s.

The watchdog additionally warned that huge tech might squeeze out smaller corporations within the sector due to better entry to knowledge and compute.

“Large technology companies’ access to vast amounts of data and resources may allow them to leverage economies of scale, economies of scope, and feedback effects to gain an insurmountable advantage over smaller organisations, making it hard for them to compete,” the regulator mentioned. It concluded: “Given the likely importance of foundation models across the economy, we would be concerned if access to the key inputs required to develop foundation models were unduly restricted, in particular restrictions on data or computing power.”

Sarah Cardell, chief government of the competitors regulator, mentioned: “The speed at which AI is becoming part of everyday life for people and businesses is dramatic. There is real potential for this technology to turbo-charge productivity and make millions of everyday tasks easier — but we can’t take a positive future for granted. “There remains a real risk that the use of AI develops in a way that undermines consumer trust or is dominated by a few players who exert market power that prevents the full benefits being felt across the economy.”

Fake evaluations might turn into simpler to put in writing due to the AI, the watchdog mentioned. “The increased use of foundation model tools may in future make it easier and cheaper for bad actors to create fake reviews. Moreover, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a genuine and a fake review. Foundation models may make that problem worse because they could be used to generate content that may be even more convincing.”

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