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AI at the Paris doorstep
Field report from Vivatech 2023
I spent a few days this week at Vivatech 2023, one of the biggest technology trade shows in Europe.
Vivatech brings together a mix of tech companies (Amazon, Google, Meta), various French companies demonstrating their innovation units (e.g. the luxury goods giant LVMH, the energy/oil company Total) and countless startups from all around the world; all meeting at the Porte de Versailles exhibition space in the south of Paris.
The news of the week is the creation of “European answer to OpenAI”: Mistral AI. Arthur Mensch, the CEO, featured in a panel with the French president Emmanuel Macron.
Mistral AI sets out to build state-of-the-art language models in the open. Part of the excitement about this new company is driven by the track record of the three founders:
Arthur Mensch (CEO): ex-research scientist at Google DeepMind with contributions including research on scaling/productionization of Large Language Models
Timothée Lacroix (CTO) and Guillaume Lample (CSO/ Chief Science Officer): ex-research scientists at Meta, both have been contributors to LLaMa, Meta’s open foundation model that spurred the recent blossoming of open source LLMs
The other part is the valuation. The startup is just 4 weeks old, and it announced a seed investment round of €105 million, valuing the company at €240 million. While some of the comments point to the high valuation as a sign of the excessive hype surrounding Large Language Models, it’s clear that there’s an appetite in Europe for more state-of-the-art AI work to be happening here.
AI was prominently featured by most big companies at Vivetech:
Amazon / AWS pitched Amazon Bedrock, cloud service for running and tuning generative AI models
Stumbled upon an NFT wheel of fortune lottery but didn’t try my luck (photo above)
AR/VR was represented by Magic Leap and its CEO Peggy Johnson, highlighting the collaboration with Audi on sleek futuristic car interfaces
The biggest crowd showed up for the panel with Elon Musk. Quote of the day: “Let’s say there is some AI armageddon (..), I would still want to be alive at this time to see it. Hopefully not to cause it.”
Have a great week 💫,