The Importance of Open Source in the Pursuit of AI Abundance

So, my cursed brain starts to think … WHY did meta open source Llama? What do they get out of it?

After a week of researching and using Llama 3, I hate have to admit to being impressed.

Its … well, smarter. It feels more akin to speaking to a smart human than speaking to a smart machine, both in terms of the depth of its understanding and the speed at which it can respond (anyone who has used it to produce images on the fly knows what I’m referring to … its like voodoo)

And, thats not what I want to focus on today, nor is it what I’ve been thinking about.

What I’m fascinated by is that Llama is open source.

For those that don’t know, open source software refers to a small minority of software that is released to the world at the source code level … so any developer can come along, change it, build on it and make it better. This happens quite frequently and anytime you’re browsing a website chances are you’re being served content from an open source platform.

That said “successful” open source software is still the exception that proves the rule. For every home run success there is a litany of projects languishing in code repositories that are unloved, unmaintained and dying on the vine.

Commercial software developers solve this issue by (drum roll) paying people to fix bugs. Not exactly novel, but then again I’d rather things “just work” than people find novel ways to ensure they don’t work.

The purists in the world of IT would have you believe that open source is done from an alturistic perspective … folks who just want to make the world a better place.

And, in the majority of cases, that’s exactly right.

But what about meta? I can’t deny their commercial success, but there isn’t a shred of me that even suspects they have open sourced Llama to make the world better. I would be more likely to remove my pinkie toe with a dull spoon than say “meta are full of good guys. They just want to make the world a better place.” I also do not believe they have done this to grab free developer talent … they have way enough coders on hand to do whatever they need.

So, my cursed brain starts to think … WHY did meta open source Llama? What do they get out of it?

And, I only have 1 answer that fits: control. NOT Control of AI, but control of the most important thing (right now) on the planet. The thing they are so good at. The thing that made them billions … and continues to do so everyday.


Its undeniable that we will live in an attention economy. What we pay attention to is what we consume … and that is a battleground I do not see meta walking away from anytime soon.

OpenAI represent a clear and present threat for the existing FAMG collective cabal. The world of big tech is not here to serve us, and nor should they be … they are here to serve their shareholders and, cynically speaking, they aren’t looking to pull up another chair for anyone.

That gets us to a deeper question … how have the others responded?

Who?What / Why?
FacebookOpen Source a more powerful model in an effort to reduce OpenAI dominance
AppleIn conversations with OpenAI and Google around powering their AI models for the time being (as they did with Google maps when they were caught with their pants down)
MicrosoftInvest and consume (“Resistance is Futile” sound familiar anyone?)

And what does this tell us?

Microsoft and Apple have nothing to lose in the short term. As long as we’re still buying cloud services / office / iPhones, then they get stronger … thus powerful AI is in their interest (they are product based businesses seeking to market and deliver their products more efficiently)

Facebook and Google however are pure service based businesses. They only exist / survive / grow if we pay attention. Without us tuning in, what do they offer? What can they offer?

And … in a world where AI can generate content and answer our questions, do we even need them? I know this sounds somewhat laughable, but some of us are old enough to remember hearing that nothing would replace Yahoo. Until Google did.

Every concept and every company has its time. Is it the beginning of the end for Facebook and Google? Probably not, but a slip in revenue or shareholder return is unthinkiable for either.

Lastly, where does this leave consumers? Is AI open sourcing a good thing for us? I’m not so sure. I would rather see the likes of Anthropic continue to gain traction and provide a few meaningful competitors. I believe in capitalism … I believe in healthy competition.

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