The Critical Role of Open Source in the Future of AI

How open source development will make better more accessible artificial intelligence

Consider a world where technological progress is slow, software is exclusively proprietary, and the idea of collaborative development is largely absent. In this scenario, the dynamic digital ecosystem we rely on is divided, with each piece of technology locked behind its own proprietary wall.

Where there are no Android phones, where Internet connectivity and web services are so expensive only the rich can afford them. Where only companies with deep pockets for R&D can compete.

Fortunately, this scenario is far from our current reality, thanks to the foundational role of open source software. Open source acts as the bedrock for much of today's technology, enabling an environment where code is shared, improved upon, and freely distributed. It fosters a culture of collaboration that often outpaces competition, driving innovation through collective effort. Without the contributions of open source, the technology landscape today would be markedly different, underscoring the importance of open collaboration in technological advancement.

The internet's adherence to standards and freedom is heavily influenced by open source technology. Initially, designed for academic and research purposes, the internet was a network that enabled free information sharing.

This foundational principle aligned closely with open source ideals:

  • Accessibility: The source code is freely available to the public.

  • Collaboration: Open source encourages contributions from a diverse community of developers, experts, and even novices.

  • Transparency: With open code, users can inspect, understand, and trust the mechanisms of the software.

  • Freedom: Users can modify and adapt the software to their specific needs.

The introduction of Linux in the early 1990s was a critical development in the history of open source technology. Created by Linus Torvalds, Linux was made available as an open source operating system kernel, encouraging worldwide collaboration. Its open source nature facilitated widespread adoption, eventually becoming the dominant operating system in server infrastructure supporting the internet's growth.

Beyond Linux, the contribution of open source to the internet extends to various tools and protocols. The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) and the Apache Web Server, for instance, became essential for web development and deployment, embodying the principles of open source. Moreover, developing and maintaining foundational internet protocols such as TCP/IP, HTTP, and SMTP under open source principles ensured these technologies remained accessible and interoperable.

The open source model promotes knowledge sharing and collective innovation. This approach has helped prevent the fragmentation of the internet into incompatible systems and has supported technological advancement through collaborative efforts, enhancing security and reliability.

Presently, open source software underpins much of the internet infrastructure, including technologies critical to cloud computing and data management, like Apache Hadoop and Kubernetes. Additionally, open source's role in establishing and maintaining web standards has been essential in ensuring the internet remains an interoperable and accessible platform.

Open source technology, notably Linux and other projects, has played a pivotal role in shaping a free and standardized internet. This impact highlights the value of a collaborative approach to technology development, offering a model for creating and sharing innovations for widespread benefit.

Differentiating Open Source and Partially-Open Projects

To comprehend the true impact of open source for AI, it's crucial to distinguish between fully open source and partially open projects. This distinction is epitomized by examining Meta's LLaMA (Large Language Model Meta AI).

Open but Not Open Source Llama

LLaMA is an AI model developed by Meta that showcases advanced capabilities in natural language processing. It represents a significant stride in AI development, offering robust performance and versatility.

While LLaMA's architecture and some components are accessible to researchers and practitioners, it doesn't embody the full spectrum of open source ethos. Unlike fully open source projects, LLaMA’s accessibility is subject to certain constraints and doesn’t allow complete freedom in modification and distribution. Here’s a link to the download page with there License Agreement. The main point I see with the license is that there is a limitation to use and redistribute this software if you are an extremely large service provider and the requirement to get Meta’s sign-off by accepting the license agreement as you would with proprietary software:

If, on the Llama 2 version release date, the monthly active users of the products or services made available by or for Licensee, or Licensee’s affiliates, is greater than 700 million monthly active users in the preceding calendar month, you must request a license from Meta, which Meta may grant to you in its sole discretion, and you are not authorized to exercise any of the rights under this Agreement unless or until Meta otherwise expressly grants you such rights.

This is obviously meant to keep their competitors from taking their work and competing with them but that’s not consistent with the open source definition. For the most part you get to use, inspect, and modify the code.

But this restriction ignores a vital aspect of open source AI: the unreserved sharing of knowledge and resources. True open source projects offer unrestricted access to their source code, allowing for complete transparency, modification, and redistribution. This openness is about accessing the code and contributing to its development, fostering a community-driven approach that is the hallmark of open source.

The advantages of open source AI are manifold, impacting various aspects of technology development and business strategy.

Open source AI fosters a collaborative environment where developers, researchers, and users worldwide contribute to and benefit from shared knowledge. This collective intelligence accelerates innovation as diverse perspectives and expertise converge to solve complex AI challenges.

By using open source AI, businesses can significantly reduce costs associated with expensive proprietary AI software. This cost reduction makes AI technologies more accessible, especially for small to medium-sized enterprises, enabling them to compete more effectively in the market.

Open source AI offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing businesses to modify and adapt AI tools to their needs. This customization is vital to creating tailored AI solutions that align closely with unique business objectives and operational requirements.

Open Source :The Allen Institutes Open Language Model (OLMo)

The Allen Institute's Open Language Model, known as OLMo. As an open-source initiative, OLMo stands in contrast to partially open or proprietary models, offering a comprehensive toolkit for researchers and developers alike.

OLMo is developed by the Allen Institute for AI, a leading organization in AI research. The project underscores the Institute's commitment to democratizing AI technologies. Unlike semi-open projects that may offer limited access to their underlying code or training datasets, OLMo is fully open-source. This approach not only fosters transparency but also encourages collaboration among researchers, developers, and academics. It allows for unrestricted access to the model's architecture, enabling users to study, modify, and enhance the model according to their specific needs or research goals.

The significance of OLMo's open-source nature cannot be overstated. It plays a crucial role in advancing the field of NLP by providing a robust platform for experimentation. Researchers can build upon OLMo's foundation to push the boundaries of what's possible in language understanding and generation. Moreover, by making high-quality, research-grade models available to the public, the Allen Institute promotes inclusivity and diversity in AI research. This openness leads to a wider range of perspectives and innovations, contributing to the development of more sophisticated and equitable AI solutions.

In summary, The Allen Institute's OLMo exemplifies the power of open-source in AI. By offering an openly accessible, high-caliber model, OLMo not only advances the field of NLP but also embodies the principles of collaboration, transparency, and inclusivity that are essential for the future of AI.

In the current environment where the ethical use of AI is closely monitored, open source AI provides transparency. This allows businesses and users to comprehend and trust the mechanisms underpinning AI models, ensuring that these tools are utilized responsibly and ethically.

Exploring Open Source AI Resources

Several platforms stand out for their contributions and resources. Among these, Hugging Face, is particularly notable.

Hugging Face has emerged as a leading hub for open source AI, especially in natural language processing (NLP). It provides an extensive repository of pre-trained models and tools, facilitating the development and deployment of AI applications.

Hugging Face offers many AI models, including transformers, GPT, BERT, and more. These models are ready for implementation in various business contexts, from customer service chatbots to advanced data analysis.

The Hugging Face Leaderboard serves as a benchmarking hub for the artificial intelligence community, showcasing state-of-the-art models across a diverse range of natural language processing (NLP) tasks.

This platform enables researchers and developers to compare the performance of AI models on standardized datasets, facilitating transparency and collaboration in the field. By providing detailed metrics on tasks such as language understanding, translation, and question-answering, the leaderboard helps identify the most effective techniques and approaches in AI.

The leaderboard not only accelerates progress by highlighting advancements but also encourages the development of more robust, efficient, and accurate AI models, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in machine learning and NLP.

Notable Open Source Projects

Besides Hugging Face, there are other valuable open source AI resources and software:

  • TensorFlow: Developed by Google, TensorFlow is a comprehensive framework for machine learning and AI development.

  • PyTorch: Created by Facebook’s AI Research lab, PyTorch is popular for its ease of use and flexibility, especially in research and development.

  • Apache MXNet: Endorsed by Amazon, MXNet is known for its scalability and efficiency in training and deploying AI models.

  • Gymnasium: Gymnasium is an open source Python library for developing and comparing reinforcement learning algorithms by providing a standard API to communicate between learning algorithms and environments, as well as a standard set of environments compliant with that API. This is a fork of OpenAI's Gym library by its maintainers (OpenAI handed over maintenance a few years ago to an outside team) and is where future maintenance will occur going forward.

These resources provide businesses with many options for exploring and integrating AI into their operations. By leveraging these open source tools, companies can stay at the forefront of AI innovation and application.

The Risk of Ignoring Open Source AI

The significance of open source AI in the modern business environment cannot be overstated. AI has become a necessity, not a luxury, for businesses seeking to maintain competitive advantage, drive innovation, and meet the evolving needs of their customers.

The risk of ignoring open source AI is substantial. Companies that overlook this trend may find themselves lagging in several key areas:

  • Innovation: Open source AI is a hotbed of innovation. By not engaging with this community, businesses miss out on the latest developments and collaborative opportunities that could drive forward their AI initiatives.

  • Cost Efficiency: The cost benefits of open source AI are clear. Companies relying solely on proprietary solutions may incur higher expenses, reducing their competitiveness.

  • Flexibility and Customization: Open source AI provides the flexibility to tailor AI solutions to specific business needs. Without this, companies might struggle with less adaptable, one-size-fits-all solutions.

  • Talent and Community Engagement: By not participating in the open source AI community, businesses miss out on attracting top talent and engaging with a community that can provide support, innovation, and collaboration.

In an era where AI is reshaping industries, embracing open source AI is not just a strategic move—it's a critical step towards ensuring sustainable growth, innovation, and competitive edge. Businesses must recognize the value of open source AI and integrate it into their technology strategies to stay relevant and thrive in the rapidly advancing digital world.

Prompt of the Week: ChatGPT as your Negotiator

We often focus on the text ChatGPT can write or the images created by Midjourney. But there are capabilities of ChatGPT that are more nuanced and help us with common tasks by giving us advice.

I recently saw some negotiation prompts from Ruben Hassid on LinkedIn. I thought that was a great use case, so I took his prompts and made an ubernegotiator prompt that allows you to type a prompt and then choose a style and the context, and it will help come up with a negotiating strategy. You can copy and paste the prompt and look at the screenshot below for an idea of how this will impact the output.

You will act as an expert negotiator. When I run the prompt you will give me a list of the negotiating options (Harvard Principled Negotiation, 'Seven Elements' Framework, or Toulmin Model)You will then ask me for the context of my negotiation. Then you will apply the selected framework from the following list.

**Harvard Principled Negotiation**Act like an Expert in Principled Negotiation, employing the framework from Fisher and Ury’s 'Getting to Yes.'

Here is the context of my negotiation:[context]Begin by separating people from the problem, focusing on interests rather than positions.

Generate a variety of options before deciding on an agreement, encouraging creativity and open-mindedness.Insist that the agreement is based on objective criteria, seeking fair standards independent of personal will.

Use empathetic communication to build a rapport, understanding the other side's viewpoint and expressing your own clearly.Aim for a win-win outcome where both parties feel satisfied with the agreement.

Continually navigate towards mutual respect and understanding, avoiding the pitfall of viewing negotiation as a battle to be won.Take a deep breath and work on this problem step-by-step.

**'Seven Elements' Framework

**Act like a Harvard-Trained Negotiator, applying the 'Seven Elements' framework.Start by identifying and articulating interests: the needs, desires, fears, and concerns that underlie [context].Explore options: brainstorm multiple choices before deciding what to do.Establish criteria: determine fair standards and procedures for making decisions.

Develop legitimate and fair standards for the negotiation, seeking to base the process on principled decisions.Communicate effectively, understanding that the relationship is as important as the substance of the negotiation.Commit to the process, ensuring that both parties are clear about the specifics of the agreement.

Handle communication strategically, recognizing the importance of both what is said and how it is said.Take a deep breath and work on this problem step-by-step.

**Toulmin Model**

Act like a Critical Thinker, applying the Toulmin Model of Argument.Here is the context of my negotiation:[context]

Start with a claim: state your position or what you are asking for.Present your grounds: offer the evidence that supports your claim.Elucidate your warrant: explain how the grounds logically support your claim.Anticipate rebuttals: consider counterarguments and objections to your position.Use backing: provide additional support to bolster your warrant.

Qualify your claim: specify the limits of your argument or under what conditions your claim holds true.Create a closing argument that reinforces your position, combining rationality with persuasive communication.

Take a deep breath and work on this problem step-by-step."Now prompt me for the style and context of the negotiation.

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