'BritGPT': UK plans ChatGPT-like superpower to counter China’s AI influence

The new AI strategy, which includes the construction of a supercomputer, will cost the UK £900 million ($1.2 billion).
Baba Tamim
Stock photo: AI concept illustration.
Stock photo: AI concept illustration.

Devrimb/iStock 

The United Kingdom (U.K.) has announced plans to develop its own ChatGPT version, "BritGPT" as part of a new artificial intelligence (AI) strategy.

A new AI research organization will be established, along with constructing an exascale computer, costing £900 million ($1.2 billion), according to the U.K. Treasury's plan, revealed on Wednesday. 

"These investments will provide scientists with access to cutting-edge computing power and bring a significant uplift in computing capacity to the AI community," reads the Spring Budget 2023 plan

The supercomputer will be more potent than most supercomputers in the U.K.

Large language models (LLMs) that run sensational OpenAI's ChatGPT and Google's yet-to-be-released Bard AI's enormous potential prompted the U.K. to "establish a taskforce" to advance "sovereign capability in foundation models."

"The government will award a £1 million ($1.2 million) prize every year for the next 10 years to researchers that drive progress in critical areas of AI," said the 120-page plan.

The prize will be known as the Manchester Prize in honor of the Manchester Baby, a prototype for the modern computer created in 1948 at the University of Manchester. 

China factor and AI advancement

UK lawmakers issued a warning last month that if the country didn't invest in LLMs or "BritGPT" it would risk falling behind countries like China and other major tech firms, The Guardian reported earlier. 

"We think there's a risk that we, in the U.K., lose out to the large tech companies, and possibly China, and get left behind … in areas of cybersecurity, of healthcare, and so on," said Adrian Joseph, BT's chief data and artificial intelligence officer.  

"It is a massive arms race that has been around for some time, but the heat has certainly been turned up most recently," he added while addressing the Commons science and technology committee.

The government also made a "commitment to £2.5 billion ten-year quantum research and innovation program through the government's new Quantum Strategy."

Meanwhile, China may have already taken the leap.

On Thursday, Baidu, a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in Internet-related services, products, and artificial intelligence, unveiled Ernie Bot, an AI-powered chatbot.

The company revealed the plans of ChatGPT's competitor in February.

Earlier last week, OpenAI unveiled GPT-4, ChatGPT's successor. GPT-4 is a large multimodal model that can process image and text inputs but can only respond in text, making the company retain the top AI chatbot spot.

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