Tech and Science

ChatGPT faces new challenge from Meta’s Llama 2 AI model

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Mark Zuckerberg, Metas CEO. AFP/File
Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO. AFP/File

Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platforms, has developed a powerful artificial intelligence system named Llama 2, which competes with OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. 

In a significant departure from the norm, Meta plans to offer a commercial version of its AI model for free, giving startups and businesses a cost-effective opportunity to compete with their counterparts using ChatGPT and Bard.

The new Llama 2 version will be distributed through Microsoft’s Azure cloud service and will run on the Windows operating system, with Microsoft being referred to as Meta’s “preferred partner” for this release. Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO, announced that the AI large language model Llama 2 will be available for both research and commercial use.

Meta has, in many ways, been on par with other tech giants like Google and Microsoft in its pursuit of AI advancements. However, it was overshadowed by the popularity of ChatGPT, leading to a rush to capitalise on generative AI tools capable of producing new content, such as prose and images.

One of Meta’s differentiating factors is its commitment to openness, sharing data, and code for building AI systems to allow external researchers to identify and mitigate potential bias and toxicity issues. Zuckerberg believes that open-sourcing Llama 2 will drive innovation and improve safety and security.

Despite this emphasis on openness, the research paper introducing Llama 2 reveals less transparency than previously seen in Meta’s work. The model was trained on a new mix of publicly available data but did not specify the sources used, only mentioning the exclusion of personal information from certain websites.

Meta’s first AI model, known as LLaMA, was open-sourced, but the company dropped the capital letters for its second version. Llama 2 will be available for direct download or through Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, along with Microsoft’s safety and content tools.

While Microsoft is described as a “preferred partner,” Llama 2 will also be accessible through Amazon Web Services and AI startup Hugging Face. Microsoft, being a significant funder and partner of OpenAI (the creator of ChatGPT), is also involved in the AI partnership with Meta.

At a Microsoft event for business customers, the two companies announced their commitment to democratising AI and its benefits. Meta is already a customer of Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.

Microsoft also unveiled its monthly fee of $30 per user for its flagship generative AI tool, Microsoft 365 Copilot, on top of existing service charges for businesses.

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