Telcos tap up OpenAI veterans for their own AI tech

Artificial Intelligence Concept. Microprocessor with the letters AI.

The recently-launched Global Telco AI Alliance has brought in some heavy hitters to build its very own large language model (LLM).

The news arrived via one of the group’s founding members, SK Telecom (SKT), which announced on Sunday its Silicon Valley-based venture capital arm, SK Telecom Venture Capital (SKTVC), has partnered with Anthropic.

Based in San Francisco, Anthropic was started in 2021 by siblings Daniela and Dario Amodei, both of whom served at Microsoft-backed OpenAI. Anthropic focuses on ethical AI research with a view to developing products that are less prone to spreading misinformation or prejudice.

As with any self-respecting generative AI company, the public are allowed to have a go at interacting with its chatbot, which in Anthropic’s case is called Claude.

We pondered when the Alliance launched in July whether it would license an existing LLM – like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google Bard – for its Telco AI Platform, or seek to develop its own.

The answer is somewhere between the two.

The partnership announced on Sunday will see Anthropic and SKT co-develop a version of Claude specifically for telcos. They want this Claude to be good at addressing a number of operator use cases, including industry specific customer service, marketing, sales, and interactive consumer applications.

By taking this approach, SKT and its fellow Telco AI Alliance members – which in addition to SKT includes Deutsche Telekom, e&, and Singtel – hope to benefit from increased performance compared to using a more generalist generative AI. It will also save the telcos the time and money that comes with developing and operating an in-house LLM.

Furthermore, given the global nature of the Global Telco AI Alliance, this tweaked version of Claude will be a multilingual LLM, able to work in Arabic, English, German, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.

“SKT has incredible ambitions to use AI to transform the telco industry,” said Dario Amodei, who serves as CEO of Anthropic, in a statement. “We’re excited to combine our AI expertise with SKT’s industry knowledge to build an LLM that is customised for telcos. We see industry specific LLMs as having high potential to create safer and more reliable deployments of AI technology.”

Investors looking to cash in on AI certainly seem convinced by Anthropic’s credentials. According to Crunchbase, as of July Anthropic had raised a mighty $1.5 billion from five funding rounds.

SKTVC is one of them, having participated in one of those earlier rounds. And on Sunday it threw another $100 million into the pot.

“With our strategic investment in Anthropic, a global leading AI technology company, we will be working closely with Anthropic to promote AI innovation,” said Ryu Young-sang, CEO of SKT. “By combining our Korean language-based LLM with Anthropic’s strong AI capabilities, we expect to create synergy and gain leadership in the AI ecosystem together with our global telco partners.”


Claude chat



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