What Is Sovereign AI?

Sovereign AI refers to a nation’s capabilities to produce artificial intelligence using its own infrastructure, data, workforce and business networks.
by Keith Strier

Nations have long invested in domestic infrastructure to advance their economies, control their own data and take advantage of technology opportunities in areas such as transportation, communications, commerce, entertainment and healthcare.

AI, the most important technology of our time, is turbocharging innovation across every facet of society. It’s expected to generate trillions of dollars in economic dividends and productivity gains.

Countries are investing in sovereign AI to develop and harness such benefits on their own. Sovereign AI refers to a nation’s capabilities to produce artificial intelligence using its own infrastructure, data, workforce and business networks.

Why Sovereign AI Is Important

The global imperative for nations to invest in sovereign AI capabilities has grown since the rise of generative AI, which is reshaping markets, challenging governance models, inspiring new industries and transforming others — from gaming to biopharma. It’s also rewriting the nature of work, as people in many fields start using AI-powered “copilots.”

Sovereign AI encompasses both physical and data infrastructures. The latter includes sovereign foundation models, such as large language models, developed by local teams and trained on local datasets to promote inclusiveness with specific dialects, cultures and practices.

For example, speech AI models can help preserve, promote and revitalize indigenous languages. And LLMs aren’t just for teaching AIs human languages, but for writing software code, protecting consumers from financial fraud, teaching robots physical skills and much more.

In addition, as artificial intelligence and accelerated computing become increasingly critical tools for combating climate change, boosting energy efficiency and protecting against cybersecurity threats, sovereign AI has a pivotal role to play in equipping every nation to bolster its sustainability efforts.

Factoring In AI Factories

Comprising new, essential infrastructure for AI production are “AI factories,” where data comes in and intelligence comes out. These are next-generation data centers that host advanced, full-stack accelerated computing platforms for the most computationally intensive tasks.

Nations are building up domestic computing capacity through various models. Some are procuring and operating sovereign AI clouds in collaboration with state-owned telecommunications providers or utilities. Others are sponsoring local cloud partners to provide a shared AI computing platform for public- and private-sector use.

“The AI factory will become the bedrock of modern economies across the world,” NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang said in a recent media Q&A.

Sovereign AI Efforts Underway

Nations around the world are already investing in sovereign AI.

Since 2019, NVIDIA’s AI Nations initiative has helped countries spanning every region of the globe to build sovereign AI capabilities, including ecosystem enablement and workforce development, creating the conditions for engineers, developers, scientists, entrepreneurs, creators and public sector officials to pursue their AI ambitions at home.

France-based Scaleway, a subsidiary of the iliad Group, is building Europe’s most powerful cloud-native AI supercomputer. The NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD comprises 127 DGX H100 systems, representing 1,016 NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs interconnected by NVIDIA NVLink technology and the NVIDIA Quantum-2 InfiniBand platform. NVIDIA DGX systems also include NVIDIA AI Enterprise software for secure, supported and stable AI development and deployment.

Swisscom Group, majority-owned by the Swiss government, recently announced its Italian subsidiary, Fastweb, will build Italy’s first and most powerful NVIDIA DGX-powered supercomputer — also using NVIDIA AI Enterprise software — to develop the first LLM natively trained in the Italian language.

With these NVIDIA technologies and its own cloud and cybersecurity infrastructures, Fastweb plans to launch an end-to-end system with which Italian companies, public-administration organizations and startups can develop generative AI applications for any industry.

The government of India has also announced sovereign AI initiatives promoting workforce development, sustainable computing and private-sector investment in domestic compute capacity. India-based Tata Group, for example, is building a large-scale AI infrastructure powered by the NVIDIA GH200 Grace Hopper Superchip, while Reliance Industries will develop a foundation LLM tailored for generative AI and trained on the diverse languages of the world’s most populous nation. NVIDIA is also working with India’s top universities to support and expand local researcher and developer communities.

Japan is going all in with sovereign AI, collaborating with NVIDIA to upskill its workforce, support Japanese language model development, and expand AI adoption for natural disaster response and climate resilience. These efforts include public-private partnerships that are incentivizing leaders like SoftBank Corp. to collaborate with NVIDIA on building a generative AI platform for 5G and 6G applications as well as a network of distributed AI factories.

Finally, Singapore is fostering a range of sovereign AI programs, including by partnering with NVIDIA to upgrade its National Super Computer Center, or NSCC, with NVIDIA H100 GPUs. In addition, Singtel, a leading communications services provider building energy-efficient AI factories across Southeast Asia, is accelerated by NVIDIA Hopper architecture GPUs and NVIDIA AI reference architectures.

Read more about sovereign AI and its transformative potential.

Explore generative AI sessions and experiences at NVIDIA GTC, the global conference on AI and accelerated computing, running March 18-21 in San Jose, Calif., and online.