For almost three months, the ChatGPT software from the American company Open AI has been causing a sensation. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), ChatGPT can answer a wide variety of queries in a previously unknown quality. Meanwhile, the tech companies Google and Microsoft, which is involved in Open AI, outbid each other almost every week with new AI announcements. The focus is on the United States. 73 percent of the large AI models on which applications such as ChatGPT are based come from America.

Maximilian Sachse

Editor in Business

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But with the start-up Aleph Alpha, there is at least one promising company in Germany that has already developed its own model called Luminous. Now, for the first time, the Heidelberg-based company has comprehensively tested the performance of its AI and has come to the conclusion: its own model can keep up with those of Open AI, Meta and the open, international research model Bloom.

The company tested the models using a neutral test procedure of the open research and developer community "Eleuther AI" with regard to the correct classification, evaluation and creation of texts as well as answering questions about certain text content. The process is also used by the other major vendors to evaluate their software. According to the evaluation, the accuracy of the currently best model from Heidelberg in the so-called core functions is on average 53.4 percent. For comparison: The model "davinci" of Open AI comes to 53.7 percent, OPT of Meta to 52.2 and Bloom to 49.3 percent.

"Important step towards Europe's technological sovereignty"

"Luminous is a strong alternative in many environments and thus an important step towards Europe's technological sovereignty," said Aleph Alpha founder Jonas Andrulis. The start-up also emphasizes that Luminous even achieves results with significantly fewer parameters than the competition. Parameters are the values that the AI learns during its training and specifies through further training. In fact, Aleph Alpha's model contains nearly 70 billion such parameters. The compared competitor models all work with almost 175 billion parameters. This allows Aleph Alpha to consume less resources, according to the company.

This can also be an economic advantage. Because operating large AI models requires a lot of computing power. Experts assume that each request to ChatGPT therefore costs around 5 cents. This is another reason why Aleph Alpha does not offer a mass product for end customers, but specializes in applications for companies and public administration. For this purpose, the company has built its own AI data center in Bayreuth. In October 2022, for example, the citizen assistant "Lumi", which is based on Luminous, was launched on behalf of the city of Heidelberg. The system is able to respond to individual, non-pre-programmed questions from citizens.