French billionaire Xavier Niel is the driving force behind the founding of Kyutai AI lab in Paris. (Source: Wikimedia)

French Billionaire Launches $330M Open Source AI Research Lab in Paris

French Billionaire and Iliad CEO Xavier Niel announced plans for a privately funded nonprofit working on artificial general intelligence. Niel personally committed €100 million to the project, equal to $109 million, according to a story.

“As Kyutai will work on foundational models, they will also need some compute power. The good news is that Scaleway, the cloud division of Iliad, recently acquired a thousand Nvidia H100 GPUs. These top-of-the-line GPUs are essential for inference and model training and will be available at cost for Kyutai.”

The announcement at Scaleway’s ai-PULSE conference included six men who previously worked for Meta’s AI research team FAIR, Google’s DeepMind division, Inria, etc.: Patrick Perez, Edouard Grave, Hervé Jegou, Laurent Mazaré, Neil Zeghidour and Alexandre Defossez. The director of the research lab is Patrick Perez, who previously worked for Valeo.

While OpenAI started as a nonprofit, it has since converted to for-profit status, which led to the clash in ideas on its board in recent weeks. The story noted:

“Other companies have also been working on open source foundational models, such as Meta with its Llama model and Mistral AI. Kyutai’s models will be open source too, but the researchers describe their work as open science. They plan to release open source models, but also the training source code and data that explain how they released these models.”

Mistral AI researchers credit its quick development to being open source, which could ultimately be an advantage. French President Emmanuel Macron said in a prerecorded video message at the conference that he believes that regulation should be restricted to cases, not models.

“I’m also a strong believer in open source, and we need to turn it into a French asset,” Macron said.