SoftBank is Building a Premier AI Research Lab for Japan

SoftBank is Building a Premier AI Research Lab for Japan
Image Credit: Reuters

SoftBank has announced the establishment of SB Intuitions Corp. (“SB Intuitions”), a new company focused on the research and development of homegrown large language mondels (LLMs). SB Intuitions will build LLMs specific for the Japanese language and tailored to the needs of Japan-based customers across various industries.

SoftBank says its commitment to generative AI technology is in support of its corporate philosophy "Information Revolution — Happiness for everyone". The company is undertaking various projects and investments in the space, and has disclosed plans to build a state-of-the-art computing platform capable of advanced data processing. This platform will form the foundation for the development of its generative AI solutions and other applications.

The primary mandate of SB Intuitions is to equip SoftBank's computing platform with the requisite "data sets and tools needed for LLM learning, and developing models for reinforcement learning". With a specialized focus on Japanese language LLMs, SB Intuitions is uniquely positioned to offer AI services customized to the language and cultural needs of the Japanese market.

This endeavor by SoftBank to develop Japanese-specific LLMs mirrors similar efforts globally that cater to non-English languages. In the Middle East, Abu Dhabi's AI and Digital Science Research Center (AIDRC) built Noor, now the world's largest Arabic language model. Chinese tech giant like Alibaba recently rolled out Qwen, and Baichuan Intelligent Technology released Baichuan-13B to capture nuances of Chinese culture and linguistics.

With the launch of SB Intuitions, SoftBank hopes to achieve similar localization for the Japanese market. This contributes to the broader push towards diversifying artificial intelligence, moving beyond English-centric models to accommodate the world's many languages and cultures. The company also noted that it will exclusively operate and manage data from Japan-based data centers. as the AI arms race accelerates, this is likely indicative of the approach most soverign AI providers will adopt.

SB Intuitions will start with a little over $1 million in funding and Hironobu Tamba will serve as its president. With its focused research and development on Japanese LLMs, SB Intuitions not only marks a new chapter in SoftBank's AI journey but an important milestone in the broader narrative of AI development and implementation within Japan.

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