Tel Aviv startup rolls out new advanced AI language model to rival OpenAI

AI21 Labs, co-founded by Amnon Shashua, launches Jurassic-2 and five new AI generative tools to paraphrase, summarize, check for grammar mistakes, and improve text

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

AI21 Labs's Jurassic-2, an advanced AI language model for automating text. (Courtesy)
AI21 Labs's Jurassic-2, an advanced AI language model for automating text. (Courtesy)

Israel’s AI21 Labs, a natural language processing (NLP) company, on Thursday unveiled its next-generation language model which is customizable to specific tasks and which the startup says allows developers and businesses to build text-based applications in a number of languages, faster and at a fraction of the cost.

AI21 Labs, which has a vision to make artificial intelligence a thought partner to humans, released its new Jurassic-2 family language model featuring advanced instruction following capabilities and up to 30% faster response times compared to its Jurassic-1 version. In addition, with Jurassic-2, the language model is available in more languages, including Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch.

NLP is the ability of a computer program to understand human language by speech and by text. With the recent hype over OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a so-called large language model that uses deep learning to spit out human-like text, other startups such as AI21 Labs co-founded by Prof. Amnon Shashua, who is also the co-founder of Mobileye (an Intel company), have been quick to come out with competing AI models.

Similar to Jurassic-1 introduced in 2021, the Jurassic-2 language model will be available through AI21 Studio, an NLP developer platform, for developers to build text-based applications like virtual assistants, chatbots, text simplification, content moderation, and creative writing. The model can be used to answer questions, rewrite an essay, summarize text or write a poem. The startup has more than 35,000 developers registered to the AI21 Studio platform.

“We have 1000s of applications that are supported by Jurassic and hundreds of commercial engagements, and we expect this to grow dramatically,” AI21 Labs co-CEO and co-founder Ori Goshen told The Times of Israel. “We are now really introducing an alternative to OpenAI and our uniqueness factor is related to the second thing we are introducing, which is task-specific language models.”

With the launch of Jurassic-2, the startup also launched five new tools for businesses to build their own applications with the use of more specific tasks, including correcting grammar and summarizing text, paraphrasing or rewriting up to a full paragraph of text, recommendations to improve copy by diversifying vocabulary, and splitting long pieces of text into segments based on topics.

AI21 Labs co-founders (from left to right) Yoav Shoham, Ori Goshen, and Amnon Shashua. (Credit: Roei Shor/Courtesy)

“We are introducing these high-level language models that are specifically optimized for specific tasks,” said Goshen. “As we see more adoption, people will have the mental understanding of what is possible, and then they will probably look for a specific solution rather than a general-purpose language model that can do a lot of things.”

Goshen said that in tests, task-specific language models perform better than generic, or the general-purpose language model, in terms of the quality of the results.

As an example of users, Goshen mentioned online retailers who need to generate good-quality product descriptions.

“It’s very costly. Some retailers have millions of new products introduced every year and they need to write good content so the products will be discoverable,” explained Goshen. “Now they have this generating tool, using these kinds of language models that can accelerate the development of the content with a human in the loop.”

“For example, you can customize each product for different audiences which wasn’t economically viable before these models came out,” he added.

Founded in 2017, the increasing buzz surrounding generative AI has helped AI21 Labs raise capital. In July, the startup raised $64 million in a Series B funding, valuing the company at $664 million.

The financing round was led by the UK-based Ahren Innovation Capital Fund with participation from Shashua, Pitango Ventures, Tel Aviv’s TPY Capital, and US billionaire and entrepreneur Mark Leslie, the founder of Veritas Technologies. The capital has also helped the startup double its workforce to 190 employees over the past year.

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