South Korean internet search engine Naver is planning to offer bespoke versions of artificial intelligence (AI) models similar to ChatGPT, reported the Financial Times.

In contrast to Microsoft and Google’s focus on universal AI models, Naver aims to develop customised AI applications tailored to specific countries with political sensitivities in the Arab world.

Additionally, Naver seeks to develop AI systems tweaked to the political and cultural contexts of non-English speaking countries such as Spain and Mexico.

Speaking to the publication, Naver executive Sung Nako said: “This will be a massive business as sovereign AI technology is becoming increasingly important for data protection.”

Nako is tasked with developing hyper-scale AI, which entails organising sizable computing power and data in the cloud to train and operate AI.

In an interview with the FT, Nako compared exporting Naver’s AI models with constructing atomic power plants in foreign countries, stating that Naver could offer these models at more competitive prices compared with Western competitors.

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Recently, the Seongnam-si-based company signed a preliminary agreement with Saudi Arabia to offer IT services, including AI tools, to facilitate the country’s shift towards a digital economy.

“It is becoming like a new cold war as the US government now has the authority to look into data and information stored in American companies’ cloud systems,” Sung was quoted by the publication as saying.

The executive pointed out that many countries are wary of US cloud and AI systems due to security concerns.

However, experts cautioned Naver may be over-optimistic about overseas sales of its AI systems, given previous failures in taking its search engine abroad, despite its dominance in the South Korean market.

Naver said it will remain focused on its domestic market, with plans to launch HyperClova X, an upgraded AI system similar to ChatGPT, this summer (June to August.)

HyperClova X is aimed at enhancing Naver’s search and shopping services and offering tailored versions for businesses.

“We are clearly focusing on Korea and Japan for now, but we are also eyeing more overseas markets as localisation will be the key in the AI race,” Nako added.