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Revolutionary Research Initiative Aims to Construct a Powerful Language AI Model for Southeast Asia

Singapore Launches National Multimodal Language Model Program to Support Southeast Asian Cultures and Languages

Singapore has initiated the National Multimodal Language Model (LLM) Program with the aim of developing an artificial intelligence (AI) large language model that is more aligned with the demographics and cultural diversity of Southeast Asian nations. The program, led by Singapore, is a collaboration between three government agencies — Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), AI Singapore (AISG), and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) — and has received funding of SG$70 million ($52.48 million) from the National Research Foundation.

The agencies stressed the need for developing localized LLMs for Southeast Asia, including Singapore, as the cultural context and values of the region differ from those of Western countries where most large language models originate. These differences can include the need to switch between languages in Singapore’s multilingual population. To support the research program, Singapore’s National Supercomputing Centre will provide high-performance computing resources, enabling the development of the country’s research and engineering capabilities in multimodal LLMs.

The launch of the National Multimodal LLM Program reflects Singapore’s commitment to becoming a global AI hub. Ong Chen Hui, IMDA’s assistant chief executive of biztech group, emphasized the importance of language as an enabler for collaboration and stated that by investing in talent and large language AI models for regional languages, Singapore aims to foster industry collaboration across borders and drive AI innovation in Southeast Asia.

The program will build upon the efforts of AISG’s Southeast Asian Languages in One Network (SEA-LION), an open-source LLM designed to be smaller, flexible, and faster than existing LLMs in the market. SEA-LION currently operates on two base models: a three billion parameter model and a seven billion parameter model. AISG highlighted the significance of an open-source model in addressing the strong bias displayed by existing LLMs, which often originate from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic societies (WEIRD). SEA-LION aims to represent “non-WEIRD” populations and has been trained on 981 billion language tokens, including English, Southeast Asian languages, and Chinese.

Singapore’s efforts to develop localized LLMs align with its AI strategy, which aims to establish the country as a global development hub for AI solutions by 2030. The strategy includes plans to triple the number of AI professionals in Singapore to 15,000 within the next three to five years and to create an ecosystem that supports governance, testing, benchmarking, and the implementation of AI ethics and safety guidelines.

Recognizing the transformative potential of AI and its impact on society, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong emphasized the need for responsible development and adoption of AI. He highlighted the future possibility of AI systems with agency and transactional abilities, as well as machines with human-like cognitive abilities, self-awareness, and independent decision-making. Wong stressed the importance of deliberate guidance in the development and deployment of AI to ensure its responsible and ethical use.

In conclusion, Singapore’s National Multimodal LLM Program aims to develop AI language models that better represent the diverse cultures and languages of Southeast Asia. By investing in research and engineering capabilities, Singapore seeks to establish itself as a global AI hub and drive innovation in the region. The program builds upon the efforts of AISG’s SEA-LION project and aligns with Singapore’s broader AI strategy, which focuses on developing a robust ecosystem for AI development and ensuring the responsible use of AI technologies.

Thomas Lyons
Thomas Lyons
Thomas Lyons is a well renowned journalist and seasoned reviewer, boasting an illustrious career spanning two decades in the global publishing realm. His expertise is widely sought after, making him a respected figure in the publishing industry. As the visionary founder of Top Rated, he has set a benchmark for authenticity and credibility in information dissemination. Driven by a profound passion for Artificial Intelligence, Thomas's keen insight pierces through the noise of the AI sector. He is dedicated to helping his readers find the most accurate, unbiased, and trusted news and reviews. As your guide in the evolving world of AI, Thomas ensures you're always informed and ahead of the curve.
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