Mark Zuckerberg Opted for an Open Source Strategy to Face Google, Open AI, and Microsoft

IBL News | New York

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s Founder and CEO, believes that the smartest strategy on AI is to share as open-source software its underlying AI engines as a way to spread its influence and ultimately move faster toward the future, according to an article in The New York Times this week.

In February, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, decided to give away its A.I. crow jewel technology, called LLaMA, providing outsiders with everything they needed to quickly build chatbots of their own.

“The platform that will win will be the open one,” Yann LeCun, Meta’s chief A.I. scientist, said in an interview.

Meta’s actions contrast with those of Google and OpenAI. These two companies, currently at the forefront of the new AI arms race, are very secretive about the methods and software that underpin their AI products. They argue that it’s because they’re worried that AI chatbots will be used to spread disinformation, hate speech, and other toxic content. Therefore, they label the open-source approach as dangerous.

Meanwhile, Meta says that the growing secrecy at Google and OpenAI, is a “huge mistake,” “Consumers and governments will refuse to embrace AI unless it is outside the control of these companies.”

The history of technology has seen battles between open-source and proprietary, or closed, systems.

Most recently, Google open-sourced the Android mobile operating system to take on Apple’s dominance in smartphones.

While Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI have since received most of the attention in AI, Meta has also invested in the technology for nearly a decade. The company has spent billions of dollars building the software and the hardware needed to realize chatbots and other “generative AI,” which produce text, images, and other media on their own.

According to The Times, Mark Zuckerberg is focused on making his company an A.I. leader, holding weekly meetings on the topic with his executive team and product leaders.

Meta’s LLaMA release was significant because analyzing all that data typically requires hundreds of specialized computer chips and tens of millions of dollars, resources most companies do not have.

At Stanford University, researchers used Meta’s new technology to build their own AI system, which was made available on the internet. When they realized that their system was being used to spread disinformation and toxic content, they promptly removed the AI system from the internet.

For Meta, more people using open-source software can also level the playing field as it competes with OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google.

If every software developer in the world builds programs using Meta’s tools, it could help entrench the company for the next wave of innovation, staving off potential irrelevance.