Meta AI event in London: open-source AI, disinformation, and Llama 3

April 9, 2024

  • Meta executives like Nick Clegg and Yann LeCun gathered at an event in London
  • They discussed AI disinformation and the need for more open-source AI
  • Llama 3, Meta's new open model, will also be released within around a month
AI Meta

Meta AI’s London event this Tuesday saw Yann LeCun, Nick Clegg, and others discuss current topics in AI.

Clegg, the former UK Deputy Prime Minister and current President of Global Affairs at Meta, discussed the need for AI to break free from the “clammy hands” of Silicon Valley.

Clegg spoke of the importance of making AI tools widely and freely available, releasing them from the monopolistic grasp of a few large tech corporations in the US. 

This is very much in keeping with Meta AI’s ethos, which seeks to challenge proprietary AI R&D at Microsoft, Google, etc. However, distinguishing Meta itself from ‘large US tech corporations’ would be stretching it.

While Meta’s Llama series of language models aren’t entirely open-source (and the term’s meaning is hotly debated), they’re certainly more open than models trained by OpenAI, Google, etc. 

Meta’s chief AI scientist, Yann LeCun, one of the field’s most well-known researchers, also strongly supports open-source AI initiatives. 

“It’s crucial to democratize the technology so it’s not just kept in the clammy hands of a small number of very large and well-heeled companies in California,” Clegg stated, reflecting LeCun’s own sentiment, who remarked, “This cannot be done by a handful of companies on the West Coast of the US.”

Others, such as NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang and ex-Stability AI Emad Mostaque, have spoken about the need for countries to build their own sovereign AI and relinquish the technology from centralized ownership. 

Speaking at an event earlier this year, Huang said, “[AI] codifies your culture, your society’s intelligence, your common sense, your history – you own your own data.”

Nick Clegg downplays AI’s threat to global democracy

Clegg went against the prevailing narrative when he pointed out that AI tools haven’t been systematically employed to disrupt or subvert major elections in countries like Taiwan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia so far this year.

At face value, it seems a bizarre comment since Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh all suffered AI-related disinformation events. In Bangladesh last year, deep fake videos aimed to discredit opposition figures, such as showing them taking unpopular stances on sensitive issues like the Israel-Gaza conflict. 

In Indonesia, Erwin Aksa, the deputy chairman of Golkar, one of Indonesia’s major political parties, posted a deep fake of former dictator Suharto that amassed over 4.7 million views. It was designed to encourage people to vote.

In Pakistan, an AI avatar of ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan declared victory amid a chaotic vote count that remains contentious today. 

 “It is right that we should be alert and we should be vigilant, but it is striking how little these tools have been used in a systematic basis to really try and subvert and disrupt the elections,” Clegg noted during the Meta AI Day event.

Sure – we can’t easily quantify the impacts or harm of AI-generated electioneering. However, AI election tactics have already proven effective, and evidence from different scientific disciplines shows that deep fakes impact human decision-making, often with lasting impacts.

Clegg advocates for viewing AI as both a defensive and offensive tool against disinformation or, in his words, our “sword and shield” against disinformation.

Not everyone is sure to be convinced by that.

Llama 3 is imminent

Meta also disclosed its near-term plans for the debut of Llama 3, its successor language model. Like its predecessors, it will be free and open-source to some extent under Meta’s own license. 

Clegg announced, “Within the next month, actually less, hopefully in a very short period of time, we hope to start rolling out our new suite of next-generation foundation models, Llama 3.”

“There will be a number of different models with different capabilities, different versatilities [released] during the course of this year, starting really very soon.” 

Chris Cox, Meta’s Chief Product Officer, expanded on the company’s vision and described its intent to integrate Llama 3 across multiple Meta products.

This model will also apparently be more open in its ‘nature,’ with weaker or more flexible guardrails. Meta recently withheld Emu, its image generation tool, due to considerations around latency, safety, and usability – so they’re not throwing caution to the wind entirely. 

Although specifics about Llama 3’s parameters were not disclosed, it is anticipated to possess around 140 billion parameters, surpassing its predecessor, Llama 2, which had 70 billion.

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.


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