While China and North America continue to strengthen their position in the field of AI with massive government and private sector investments, Europe has fallen behind in the development of large AI models. European companies may face a stark choice in the medium term: Should they use non-European AI applications and thus give away valuable company data? Or should they choose not to do so, and therefore not get to benefit fully from large AI models?
Europe needs to counterbalance AI models from the US and China to secure its digital sovereignty and to be at the forefront of this key enabling technology. For this reason, the LEAM initiative (Large European AI Models) was founded by the industry and research institutions, and is supported by the eco Association. The central demand: We need a high-performance AI data centre in Europe.
Establishment of an AI high-performance data centre for Europe
The LEAM initiative recommends the establishment and operation of a dedicated AI data centre so that the industry and the scientific community can remain internationally competitive in the field of AI development. Germany and Europe can become the engines of innovation in this area. In this regard, the technical infrastructure needs to be state-of-the-art from the very beginning and be able to keep up with other international laboratories in terms of hardware selection and configuration, as well as computing and storage capacity.
Building competencies and human resources capacity
In parallel, the LEAM initiative aims to build up personnel expertise in a sufficient capacity to create the first major European AI models. Research and technology development must be promoted in a concentrated manner so that there is a fair chance of keeping up with international competition and taking the lead in important areas of application.
Collection of data and development of algorithms
When selecting data and algorithms, the LEAM initiative must take the specific needs of European society into account. These include European multilingualism, compliance with ethical standards and GDPR issues, and reliability in critical knowledge areas.
Establishment of an independent organisational unit
As a central measure, the LEAM initiative intends to create its own organisational unit to make the resulting models available to European industry and research. This would include making them available to users from industry, the science community and government on sufficiently powerful cloud structures. The aim would be to enable the training of the models for specific applications (fine-tuning), the use of the models in finished applications (inferencing), and experimentation to improve the models.
Consideration of European values and sustainability
Especially in the area of large language models, it is important to build up the broadest possible support for different languages and to take European values into consideration in the quality of the AI models (for example, through optimisation with respect to any bias that may occur). A key requirement for all measures is the maxim of sustainability. The planning and deployment of the infrastructure, the selection of the algorithms, the design of the training processes and also the organisation and technical execution must be designed to achieve the maximum possible energy efficiency.
Here you can download the full German-language concept paper of the LEAM initiative. It contains the first LEAM models, use cases for concrete use and possible sources of funding for the initiative.
About the LEAM initiative
LEAM (Large European AI Models) is an industry and research initiative that aims to enable Germany and Europe to catch up with current breakthrough innovations in research and application of AI methods. The aim is to preserve European sovereignty in the field of artificial intelligence. It is imperative that AI development takes place in Europe at the highest level. This is the only way to ensure that the European economy participates in the new wave of innovations and that the needs of European societies are addressed. More information about the LEAM initiative and how you can support it can be found here.