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Sakana AI – former Google employees’ startup explained

Here's what we know so far about the new AI startup, Sakana AI.
Last Updated on September 5, 2023
Sakana AI - former Google employees' startup explained. Image shows the text "Sakana AI - former Google employees' startup explained" next to the Sakana logo and two black question marks
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New AI startups are being launched all the time, and it’s hard to know which ones will take off as the next big thing in the world of artificial intelligence. However, with two former Google employees already in its arsenal, the generative AI research lab Sakana AI seems to be catching the eye of both the public and academics. Here’s everything you need to know about Sakana AI – former Google employees’ startup explained.

Who started Sakana AI?

Sakana AI has been founded by two former employees of Google, Llion Jones, and David Ha. Jones held an especially influential role at the tech giant as a co-author of the seminal Transformers research paper of 2017. This paper went on to form the foundation of the innovations that allowed OpenAI to create its viral chatbot ChatGPT. Jones is now quoted as a co-inventor of the “transformer” artificial intelligence architecture that paved the way for the mainstreaming of LLM generative AI. However, after over a decade of work for Google, Jones has left to launch Sakana AI in Tokyo and act as its CTO.

David Ha, the previous head of Google Japan’s AI research team, will act as the company CEO. Ha recently acted as the head of research at the startup Stability AI. This is the company that created the well-known artwork producing AI Stable Diffusion.

Every co-author of Google Transformers research papers has now left the tech giant, creating new ventures that have gained millions in funding from ventures. Therefore, it could be said that the stakes for Sakana AI are high. There are regular improvements in large language models in the realm of generative artificial intelligence, but it seems that Sakana is not really going in that direction. Read on to find out what we know so far about what the startup will focus on.

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What will Sakana AI do?

It’s unclear what the exact company aims of Sakana will be yet, as the startup partnership was only just announced. However, it seems that the research of Jones and Ha will be focused on creating a new kind of AI foundation model based on nature-inspired intelligence. By creating a more flexible and responsive AI, some issues could start being addressed such as the high cost and potential security risks of today’s huge AI models that require immense computing power and datasets.

Final thoughts

We will find out more about the nature-inspired methods of Sakana AI as the startup shares more information about its projects and goals over the next few months. The choice to be based in Tokyo as opposed to Silicone Valley represents the unconventional outlook of the startup, which is going up against big competition including startups such as Anthropic and OpenAI, as well as tech giants such as Google and Microsoft.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.

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