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What Does “Open” Actually Mean in Relation to Artificial Intelligence?

Summary

Nov 22, 2023. 8:58am by AssistAI The concept of “open” in relation to artificial intelligence is currently a topic of intense debate, stirring controversy within the world’s largest artificial intelligence organization and resulting in the removal of San Altman as […]

What Does “Open” Actually Mean in Relation to Artificial Intelligence?

Nov 22, 2023. 8:58am by AssistAI

The concept of “open” in relation to artificial intelligence is currently a topic of intense debate, stirring controversy within the world’s largest artificial intelligence organization and resulting in the removal of San Altman as the CEO of OpenAI. Speculation about his potential move to Microsoft has been circulating, but the latest news reveals that he is returning to OpenAI as the CEO after a major board reorganization!

The dissolution itself indicates changes in the technology community that haven’t been seen since the early days of open source development 50 years ago.

Today, much of the discussion revolves around the idea that artificial intelligence is fundamentally different from open-source software, to the extent that we need a new definition for what is meant by “open” in the context of AI.

Stefano Mafuli, Executive Director of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), gave an interview to The New Stack Makers at the Open Source Summit in Bilbao, Spain, earlier this fall to discuss the efforts he is leading to define open artificial intelligence. The first draft of the principles, currently under preparation, will be published by the end of the year.

“It’s a lot of complexity, a lot of new things,” Mafuli said about the growth of artificial intelligence. “It really reminds me of the early ’70s when software started coming out of the laboratories. It was a new artifact, a new creative work of human imagination. And we had to think about what we were going to do with it. You know, software, source code, and binary code? Do we want to apply copyright? Do we want to apply patent law? Do we want to do something completely new? And slowly, we started to consolidate, the entire social norm started to consolidate behind the use of copyright. Now we’re at the same kind of moment in history where we have these big language models, new transformers that require a lot of data to be input into the machine and create a model with weights and parameters.”
“All these new parameters do not fit entirely within the realm of copyright, as technically they are not creations of the human mind. They are the result of processing. Some scientists, some legal experts even argue that they are not covered by copyright law. But there is really great complexity there.”
However, we do not have 20 years to develop a new definition.
“What we have is a lot of experience in creating definitions and listening to communities,” Mafuli said. “The interesting thing about the definition of open source is that it didn’t come out of nowhere; it was already there. The guidelines for free software were actually based on consultations with the Debian community, and those guidelines became the definition of Free Software, open source. We have a way and a practice of bringing together the brightest minds thinking about what ‘open’ means in AI systems and in the field of artificial intelligence.”
Even the basic principles of open source are increasingly becoming reasons why transparency becomes a paradox. A model that does not disclose its sources has much less chance of being sued for copyright infringement compared to a model with a more transparent approach.
And in the balance? Altman’s removal showcases the differences in belief systems. “Safety-conscious” movements have arisen within the OpenAI community, with Altman being on the other side of the battle, wanting to experiment more first, see if it breaks, and then move forward.
The history of open source shows us one thing we can rely on when we look at these mega battles. Guardians of trust become much more valuable for trade than an unbridled quest for technical supremacy. We can see this in the events of the last week as it becomes time to define what we mean by “open” and “artificial intelligence.”

FAQ:

Q: Why was San Altman removed as the CEO of OpenAI?
A: San Altman was removed as the CEO of OpenAI due to the controversy surrounding the concept of “open” in relation to artificial intelligence.

Q: What is the Open Source Initiative (OSI)?
A: The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is an organization that promotes open-source software and sets standards for open-source licenses.

Q: Is transparency important in artificial intelligence?
A: Transparency is increasingly seen as important in artificial intelligence, though it can also present challenges in terms of protecting intellectual property.

Q: What can we learn from the history of open source?
A: The history of open source teaches us the value of trust and collaboration in defining and shaping concepts such as openness in the field of artificial intelligence.