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Meta is releasing Llama 2 to the public through Microsoft's Azure cloud platform and other channels.
The artificial intelligence arms race has taken a new turn as Meta makes its powerful AI language model freely available. In a move described by some as "democratizing AI", Meta is releasing Llama 2, a more advanced version of its large language model, to the public through Microsoft's Azure cloud platform and other channels.
"Open source drives innovation because it enables many more developers to build with new technology," said Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post announcing the release. "I believe it would unlock more progress if the ecosystem were more open."
This contrasts with the approach taken by competitors like OpenAI, which has not open-sourced its headline-grabbing ChatGPT chatbot. As Dr. Andrew Rogoyski of the University of Surrey noted, "There are competing schools of thought about open-sourcing AI."
By providing Llama 2 to all for free, Meta threatens the dominance of closed models like ChatGPT in the burgeoning generative AI market. "Commercial Llama could change the picture," remarked Amjad Masad, CEO of Replit.
Microsoft, which offers OpenAI models on Azure, will also make Llama 2 available despite competing with its partners. A Microsoft spokesperson characterized the move as giving developers "choice" and cementing Azure's position as the premier AI cloud.
For Meta, an open ecosystem built on its models helps minimize revenue competitors could make off proprietary systems. This relates to the leaked Google memo stating "We have no moat" against free alternatives.
Releasing such a powerful model widely does come with risks, as bad actors can more easily access advanced AI. However, Meta believes open collaboration improves safety, cost-efficiency, and consumer tools.
As the AI race enters a new phase, only time will tell whether openness or closed ecosystems prevail. For now, Meta's bold gambit has upped the stakes for all.