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French company H raises $220M to develop “Action-Oriented” AI

French company H raises $220M to develop "Action-Oriented" AI
Image credit: DepositPhotos/IgorVetushko

A new company called The H Company (“H” as in “human-centric”) has emerged from stealth mode, announcing a massive $220 million seed funding round and ambitious plans to develop a new generation of artificial intelligence (AI) models. The round was raised from a diverse group of investors including Accel, UiPath, Bpifrance, Eric Schmidt, Xavier Niel, Amazon, and Yuri Milner.

Just a day ago, we also reported about a company called Scale AI, which is also known for its expertise in supplying high-quality data for AI development. The company just secured a hefty $1 billion investment round. This funding brings their valuation to nearly $14 billion.

What is “Agentic” AI for business applications

H distinguishes itself from existing AI companies by focusing on “agentic” AI, also referred to as “action-oriented” AI. These models go beyond simply processing information and aim to reason, plan, and collaborate to complete tasks and solve problems. The company believes these “foundational action models” will revolutionise entire industries and ultimately bring us closer to achieving Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).

Who all are in the H team

H boasts a formidable team of 25 AI engineers and scientists, led by a group of highly respected figures in the field. Charles Kantor, CEO, spearheaded the company’s vision and strategy. Karl Tuyls, Chief Research Operations, previously led a large team at DeepMind and co-authored several groundbreaking research papers. 

Laurent Sifre, Chief Technological Officer, also held a key position at DeepMind, contributing to advancements in AlphaGo, AlphaFold, and AlphaStar. Daan Wierstra, the incoming Chief Scientist, was a founding member of DeepMind and a pioneer in deep reinforcement learning. Rounding out the team is Julien Perolat, Chief Multi-Agent, who co-authored foundational work on multi-agent learning.

Beyond language models: A holistic approach

H acknowledges the limitations of current large language models (LLMs) and emphasises a more holistic approach to AI development. The company’s mission is to “drive the productivity of billions forward,” transforming industries and enhancing the human-computer relationship. This vision is reflected in their goal of “H-olistic” and “H-umane” AI development.

Philippe Botteri of Accel emphasises the transformative nature of H’s action-oriented models, believing they surpass the capabilities of existing LLMs. Nicolas Dufourcq, CEO of Bpifrance, highlights the world-class French scientific talent within the H team and France’s leadership in the field of generative AI. Daniel Dines, of UiPath, sees H’s technology revolutionising business automation and paving the way for AGI in this domain.

What we think about the startup

The H Company’s launch and substantial funding round represent a significant step towards action-oriented AI development. The company’s ambitious goals and impressive team raise expectations for the future of AI. However, several challenges lie ahead.

While achieving true AGI remains the ultimate goal, many believe it’s decades away. H’s success will hinge on its ability to demonstrate significant progress towards this ambitious objective.

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