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How AI made Mark Zuckerberg popular again in Silicon Valley| GuyWhoKnowsThings

When Mark ZuckerbergAlthough Meta's CEO announced last year that his company would launch an artificial intelligence system, Jeffrey Emanuel had reservations.

Emanuel, a part-time hacker and full-time AI enthusiast, had tinkered with “closed” AI models, including that of OpenAI, meaning the systems' underlying code could not be accessed or modified. When Zuckerberg presented the Meta artificial intelligence system by invitation only For a handful of academics, Emanuel was concerned that the technology remained limited to a small circle of people.

But in a release last summer of an updated artificial intelligence system, Zuckerberg made the code “open source” so anyone could freely copy, modify and reuse it.

Mr. Emanuel, founder of blockchain startup Pastel Network, was sold. He said he appreciated that Meta's AI system was powerful and easy to use. Above all, he loved how Zuckerberg was embracing hacker code. make technology freely available – largely the opposite of what Google, OpenAI and Microsoft have done.

“We have this champion in Zuckerberg,” said Emanuel, 42. “Thank God we have someone who protects the spirit of open source from these other big companies.”

Zuckerberg has become the highest-profile tech executive to support and promote the open source model for AI. This has put the 40-year-old billionaire squarely on one end of a divisive debate over whether potentially world-changing technology is Too dangerous to be available to any coder who wants it.

Microsoft, OpenAI and Google have a more closed-minded AI strategy to protect their technology, so they say it's an abundance of caution. But Zuckerberg has clearly argued that technology should be open to everyone.

“This technology is so important, and the opportunities are so great, that we should open source it and make it available as widely as we can responsibly, so that everyone can benefit,” he said in a statement. Instagram video in January.

That stance has made Zuckerberg the unlikely man of the hour in many Silicon Valley developer communities. which prompts us to talk about a “brightness” and a kind of “Zuckaissance”. Even as the CEO continues to deal with scrutiny over misinformation and child safety issues On Meta platforms, many engineers, coders, technologists, and others have taken their stance on making AI available to the masses.

From Meta's first open source AI model, called call 2, was released in July, the software has been downloaded more than 180 million times, the company said. A more powerful version of the model, LLaMA 3, which was released in April, shot to the top of the download charts on Hugging Face, a community site for AI code, at record speed.

Developers have built tens of thousands of their own custom AI programs on top of Meta's AI software to do everything from helping doctors read radiology scans to creating dozens of digital chatbot assistants.

“I told Mark that I think LLaMA open source is the most popular thing Facebook has done in the tech community,” said Patrick Collison, CEO of payments company Stripe, who recently United a strategic goal Advisory group which aims to help the company make strategic decisions about its artificial intelligence technology. Meta owns Facebook, Instagram and other applications.

Zuckerberg's newfound popularity in tech circles is surprising given his tense history with developers. Over two decades, Meta has at times taken control away from coders. In 2013, for example, Zuckerberg purchased analysis, a company that created tools for developers, to attract coders to create applications for the Facebook platform. Three years later, closed the effortangering the developers who had invested their time and energy into the project.

A spokeswoman for Zuckerberg and Meta declined to comment. (The New York Times last year defendant OpenAI and its partner, Microsoft, allege copyright infringement of news content related to AI systems).

Open source software has a long history in Silicon Valley, with major technology battles revolving around open versus proprietary (or closed) systems.

In the early days of the Internet, Microsoft competed to provide the software that ran the Internet's infrastructure, only to eventually lose to open source software projects. More recently, Google opened up its Android mobile operating system to compete with Apple's closed iPhone operating system. Firefox, the Internet browser, WordPress, a blogging platform, and Blender, a popular animation software toolset, were created using open source technologies.

Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook in 2004, has long supported open source technology. In 2011, Facebook started the Open Compute Project, a nonprofit organization that freely shares server designs and equipment within data centers. In 2016, Facebook also developed Pytorch, an open source software library that has been widely used to create artificial intelligence applications. The company also shares blueprints for computer chips it has developed.

“Mark is a great student of history,” said Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, who considers Zuckerberg a confidant. “Over time, in the computer industry, he has seen that there have always been open and closed paths to travel. And he has always stopped opening.”

At Meta, the decision to open source its AI was contentious. In 2022 and 2023, the company's legal and policy teams supported a more conservative approach to launching the software, fearing a backlash among regulators in Washington and the European Union. But metatechnologists like Yann LeCun and Joelle Pineau, who spearhead AI research, pushed for the open model, which they said would better benefit the company in the long term.

The engineers won. Zuckerberg agreed that if the source were open, it could be improved and secured faster, he said in a mail last year on his Facebook page.

While LLaMA's open source means giving away computer code that Meta spent billions of dollars creating with no immediate return on investment, Zuckerberg calls It is a good business”. As more developers use Meta's software and hardware tools, they are more likely to invest in its technology ecosystem, helping to solidify the company.

The technology has also helped Meta improve its own internal artificial intelligence systems, helping to target ads and recommend more relevant content in Meta apps.

“It's 100 percent aligned with Zuckerberg's incentives and how it can benefit Meta,” said Nur Ahmed, a researcher at MIT Sloan who studies AI. “LLaMA is a win-win for everyone.”

Competitors are taking note. In February, Google open sourced for two AI models, Gemma 2B and Gemma 7B, a sign that he was feeling the pressure of Zuckerberg's open source approach. Google did not respond to requests for comment. Other companies, including microsoftMistral, Snowflake, and Databricks also began offering open source models this year.

For some programmers, Zuckerberg's approach to AI hasn't erased all the baggage of the past. Sam McLeod, 35, a software developer in Melbourne, Australia, deleted his Facebook accounts years ago after becoming uncomfortable with the company's record on user privacy and other factors.

But more recently, he said, he acknowledged that Zuckerberg had released “cutting-edge” open source software models with “permissive licensing terms,” something that can't be said for other big tech companies.

Matt Shumer, 24, a developer in New York, said he had used closed AI models from Mistral and OpenAI to power his startup's digital assistants, HyperWrite. But after Meta released its updated open source AI model last month, Shumer began to rely heavily on it. Any reservations he had about Zuckerberg are in the past.

“Developers have started to look beyond a lot of problems they've had with it and Facebook,” Shumer said. “Right now, what he's doing is really good for the open source community.”

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