Kai-Fu Lee.Photograph: Bryan van der Beek/Bloomberg/Getty Images Meta shook up the race to build more powerful artificial intelligence last July by releasing Llama 2 , an AI model similar to the one behind ChatGPT, for anyone to download and use. In November, a little-known startup from Beijing, 01.AI , released its own open source model that outperforms Llama 2 and scores near the top of many leaderboards used to compare the power of AI models. Within a few days of its release 01.AI’s model, Yi-34B , rocketed to the top spot on a ranking maintained by startup Hugging Face, which compares the abilities of AI language models across various standard benchmarks for automated intelligence. A few months on, modified versions of 01.AI’s model consistently score among the top models available to developers and companies on the Hugging Face list and other leaderboards . On Monday, the startup launched a “multimodal” AI model called Yi-VL-34B that can process images and discuss their contents. OpenAI, Google, and most other AI companies tightly control their technology, but 01.AI is giving away its AI models in hopes of inspiring a loyal developer base that helps it hatch some killer AI apps. 01.AI, founded in June of last year, has raised $200 million in investment from Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba and others and is valued at over $1 billion, according to Pitchbook. The startup’s founder and CEO is Kai-Fu Lee, a prominent investor who did pioneering artificial intelligence research before founding Microsoft’s Beijing lab and then leading Google’s Chinese business until 2009, a year before the company largely pulled out of the country . He says the creation of Yi-34B is the culmination of his life’s work trying to build more intelligent machines. “This has been the vision of my whole career,” Lee says […]

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