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Meta partners with Microsoft, unveils open-source AI model ‘Llama 2’ for research, commercial use

Meta announced on July 18 that the open-source large language model will be available for access in the Microsoft Azure AI catalog and Amazon Web Services, among other providers.

Expanding its efforts in the generative AI sector, Meta in partnership with Microsoft announced the availability of its open-source large language model Llama 2, which is essentially a family of language models that are used to power generative AI tools, on July 18. In a blogpost, Meta stated that Llama 2 will be available free of charge for research and commercial use.

Llama 2 can now be accessed in the Microsoft Azure AI catalog, through Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Hugging Face among other providers. Additionally, according to Meta, the language model is also “optimised to run locally on Windows”.

In a research paper titled ‘Llama 2: Open Foundation and Fine-Tuned Chat Models’, the team detailed the methods employed to train the language models used to build Llama 2, techniques for safety evaluation, and discussions around limitations as well as responsible use of such models.

How’s it different from Llama? In February this year, Meta had released LLaMA—Large Language Model Meta AI, under a non-commercial license focused on “research use cases”. While access to Llama was restricted and granted to academic researchers on a case-to-case basis, Llama 2 is an open-source resource for developers and businesses to build their own tools.

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On capabilities of Llama 2: In its research paper, Meta has claimed “These models have demonstrated their competitiveness with existing open-source chat models, as well as competency that is equivalent to some proprietary models on evaluation sets we examined, although they still lag behind other models like GPT-4.”

As AI commentators seem to pitch Meta’s language models against Open AI’s GPT-4 which powers ChatGPT and Microsoft Bing, AI scientist at NVIDIA Jim Fan noted on Twitter, “Llama-2 is NOT yet at GPT-3.5 level, mainly because of its weak coding abilities.” Having said that, experts, including Fan, have lauded Meta’s efforts in providing significant amount of detail on its language models in the white paper.

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On training data: Non-transparency when it comes to data used for training large language models remains a point of contention here as well. Abeba Birhane, Senior Research Fellow at Mozilla Trustworthy AI, pointed out on Twitter that Meta’s research paper does not clearly define the sources that were used to train the models.

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