Singapore has embarked on a $70 million initiative to develop a large language model (LLM) with a focus on the diverse cultures and languages across Southeast Asia.
LLMs have demonstrated remarkable capabilities in various tasks, including natural language processing, translation, and content generation. However, some of the popular models, like ChatGPT and Bard, were built in Western countries with varying cultures and values.
Singapore is Building a Culturally Sensitive LLM
With the new initiative, Singapore aims to develop an AI model that will enable people “to understand the context and values related to the diverse cultures and languages of South-east Asia, for example, managing context-switching between languages in multilingual Singapore.”
Ideally, the proposed AI model could serve as the basis of various text-to-speech or text-to-image generative programs in Singapore and Southeast Asian regions.
According to the report, the LLM will be developed over the next two years by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), together with AI Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).
The new LLM will reportedly be built on the early outcomes of AI Singapore’s Sea-Lion model – an open-source LLM that is more representative of Southeast Asia’s cultural contexts and linguistic nuances.
“By investing in talent and investing in large language AI models for regional languages, we want to foster industry collaboration across borders and drive the next wave of AI innovation in South-east Asia,” said Dr Ong Chen Hui, assistant chief executive of IMDA’s Biztech group.
Singapore is Emerging as a Regional Hub for AI
Singapore’s initiative to develop a culturally sensitive LLM aligns with its broader efforts to become a regional hub for artificial intelligence and digital innovation. Not only does it foster greater understanding, collaboration, and potential economic growth, but it also puts Singapore in the race with the rest of the major countries leading the AI movement.
“This national effort underscores Singapore’s commitment to become a global AI hub. Language is an essential enabler for collaboration,” said Dr Ong Chen Hui.
In addition to funding the AI initiative, the Singaporean government has also been preparing the legal groundwork to foster AI innovations.
In October, Cryptopolitan reported that Singapore and the United States collaboratively completed a joint mapping exercise to harmonize international AI governance frameworks. The move is expected to reduce the compliance burden for AI companies operating or looking to set up shops in both nations.