Nvidia chip

UK to invest £100m into chip production for AI tools

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The UK government has revealed its plans to spend £100m to accelerate the production of computer chips that could be used to power artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

The public funds, sourced through taxpayer money, will be used to build a national AI resource in Britain, and be ordered through major chipmaking companies such as Intel, AMD and Nvidia, according to reports. 

The government is already in the advanced stages of an order of up to 5,000 graphics processing units (GPUs) from Nvidia, reported The Telegraph. 

The GPUs, also known as graphics cards, play a crucial part in a chip’s capacity for processing and are vital for performing complex actions such as those required by AI tools. One of the most famous of these, ChatGPT-4, was trained on as many as 25,000 Nvidia chips.

However, the amount pledged might not be enough to meet the government’s ambitions to transform the UK into an AI leader, particularly in comparison with investments in the US, EU and China.

Currently, the UK only accounts for 0.5 per cent of global semiconductor sales. 

Steven Mooney, CEO of FundMyPitch, said: “It’s encouraging to see a substantial investment being made in AI superpower, at a time when the technology is set to completely reshape the way businesses operate.

“However, not enough is being done to support the UK’s homegrown tech talent, with far too many ambitious entrepreneurs and innovators struggling to obtain funding, despite producing industry-leading products.

“The reality is that for many AI start-ups, getting the opportunity to secure a credible valuation and attract the attention of investors is an almost impossible task. This needs to change immediately if we want to play a leading role in the AI industry.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting a thriving environment for compute in the UK which maintains our position as a global leader across science, innovation and technology.

“The additional money being delivered through UKRI [UK Research and Innovation] will complement the separate £100m investment to establish the Foundation Model Taskforce. Announcements on the AI Research Resource will follow in due course.”

The UK’s AI sector already contributes £3.7bn to the UK economy and employs 50,000 people across the country. 

The country has already taken steps towards developing ‘light-touch’ regulatory frameworks regarding the safe use of AI. This includes the creation of a £100m Foundation Model Taskforce, modelled after the Covid-19 Vaccine Taskforce, which will focus on the research and development of “safe and reliable” foundational models, a type of AI used by chatbots such as ChatGPT.

In the autumn, the UK is expected to host the first global summit on AI safety.

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