Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, has developed a new artificial intelligence (AI) system called Llama 2 that rivals ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. In a surprising move, Meta has decided to release Llama 2 for free.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Tuesday that the company is partnering with Microsoft to introduce the next generation of its AI large language model. The technology will be available for both research and commercial use at no cost.

While Meta has had a research team dedicated to advancing AI technology, it has been overshadowed by competitors who have capitalized on generative AI tools like ChatGPT. However, Meta has sought to differentiate itself by being more open in sharing data and code to address bias and toxicity in AI systems.

Zuckerberg emphasized the benefits of open-source technology in a Facebook post, stating that it drives innovation and improves safety and security. He cited Meta’s history of open-sourcing AI work, including the widely used machine-learning framework PyTorch.

Although Meta has been open about its AI development process in the past, the research paper introducing Llama 2 provides less transparency. It mentions that the model was trained on a mix of publicly available data but does not specify which sources were used. However, Meta states that data from websites containing personal information about individuals was removed.

Meta originally named its first AI model LLaMA (Large Language Model Meta AI) but dropped the capital letters for Llama 2.

Zuckerberg announced that Llama 2 can be downloaded directly or accessed through Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure, which offers safety and content tools. The financial terms of the partnership between Meta and Microsoft were not disclosed. The models will also be available through Amazon Web Services, Hugging Face, and other platforms.

Microsoft, a major funder and partner of OpenAI (creator of ChatGPT), expressed enthusiasm for Meta’s open approach to AI. The partnership was announced at Microsoft’s Inspire event, during which the company revealed a monthly fee of $30 for each user of its own generative AI tool, Microsoft 365 Copilot.

The release of Llama 2 marks Meta’s commitment to democratizing AI and making it accessible to researchers and businesses. By sharing its advanced AI technology for free, Meta aims to drive innovation and improve the safety and security of AI systems.


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