What is AI21 Labs?
The AI Labs Landscape
There’s a lot of competition in AI Labs. Although it may not always seem that way to us. When Google acquired DeepMind all those years ago it changed how BigTech operates with affiliated or stealth AI Labs.
Artificial intelligence researchers don’t like it when you ask them to name the top AI labs in the world, possibly because it’s so hard to answer. Just like BigTech influences the “open-source” communities of developers around software languages, they do the same with AI Labs.
OpenAI when it started was supposed to be non-profit. Fast forward a few years and that was no longer the case with a $1 Billion “investment” from Microsoft. U.S. Big Tech — Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft — have all set up dedicated AI labs over the last decade. Then there are Chinese ones, and ones in stealth we haven’t even heard about yet.
AI Labs do research and specifically push forward projects such as we have witnessed with OpenAI, causing other labs to build on their implementations. R & D (Research and Development) are the leading fields where AI jumps in with its extraordinary potential. AI Startups have already formed around both GPT-3 and DALL-E 2, for example.
Let’s name a few AI Labs in no particular order:
J.P. Morgan’s AI Research
The Machine Learning Research Group at the University of Oxford
ElkanIO Research Labs
The Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL)
Baidu AI Research Lab
Tencent AI Lab
Alan Turing Institute, London
UCLA Samueli School of Engineering
Brain AI Lab (South Korea)
Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI)
CIM (Center for Intelligent Machines) - McGill University in Canada
UTCS AI-Lab - University of Texas
MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)
Salesforce AI Lab
So as you can see they are a mix of BigTech labs, University labs and startups, among other kinds of arrangements. There are literally hundreds of these organizations.
AI Labs in an age of Public Relations Hype
BigTech in particular see fit to boost AI Labs with media and hype. The corporate games on an algorithmic internet they themselves control with added advertising budgets. It’s sad really what becomes of AI Labs and the PR hype that they succumb to:
AI has been hailed as a technology that has the potential to bring about a new industrial revolution and dramatically change the world we live in, however the PR vs. the reality are two very different things. Google’s DeepMind may have a higher budget for PR, but more obscure AI Labs or startups like Hugging Face and others may be doing more interesting things.
In particular, DeepMind, OpenAI, and FAIR (now Meta AI) are widely perceived as the top three labs partly due to “strong PR games”. What day I’ll rank all the AI Labs I can find in a coherent way. Microsoft also pushes a lot of PR, especially after its acquisition of LinkedIn. It’s hard to uncover facts and impactful research, on such an internet.
Let’s go into a bit more detail about AI21 Lab specifically now.