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Facebook will make its latest Llama AI model free to use

Facebook will make the latest AI technology freely available for the public to use in research and building new products to make money, while doubling down on the “open source” approach to the technology that has drawn both praise and criticism.

Facebook’s Llama 2 is a “big language model” – a very complex algorithm trained on billions of words taken from the open internet. It’s Facebook’s answer to Google’s Palm-2, which powers its own AI tools, and OpenAI’s GPT4, the technology behind ChatGPT. App developers will be able to download the form directly from Facebook, or access it through cloud service providers including Microsoft, Amazon, and AI start up Hugging Face.

The ad shows how Facebook is doubling down on making its AI available openly, unlike companies like OpenAI and Google, which have chosen to keep secret the details of how their technology works and charge for access.

As Meta plays catch-up to its competitors to produce new AI-powered services, the company has increasingly promoted the idea that such technology should be open source — meaning the underlying code is available for anyone to use. The company argues that by making the technology freely available, developers will be better able to create exciting new AI products as well as new tools to protect the public.

“Open source is driving innovation because it enables many developers to build with new technology,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “It also improves safety and security because when the software is open, more people can audit it to identify potential problems and fix them. I think it would unlock more progress if the ecosystem was more open, which is why we are open to Llama 2.”

But critics say open-source AI models may lead to misuse of the technology. Earlier this year, Meta released the llama to a select group of researchers only for the model to be leaked and later used in applications ranging from drug discovery to sexually explicit chatbots. Last month, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Josh Hawley (R-Mis.) wrote in June to Zuckerberg saying that in the short time generative AI applications have become widely available, they have already been abused for problematic content. Porn deepfakes of real people to malware and phishing campaigns.

The Senators wrote that “Meta’s choice to distribute LLaMA in an unrestricted, permissive manner raises important and complex questions about when and how it is appropriate to release sophisticated AI models.”

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