Meta Platforms set to launch free code-generating software as it challenges OpenAI

Open-source Code Llama program is meant to challenge generative AI models from OpenAI, Google and others, report says

Meta Platforms believes an open-source ecosystem would improve safety and security in AI. Bloomberg
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Meta Platforms, the parent company of social media company Facebook, is reportedly set to launch free software that will help programmers and developers to automatically generate code.

The software, Code Llama, is open source and meant to challenge generative artificial intelligence models from Microsoft-backed OpenAI, Google and others, The Information reported, citing sources.

Code Llama, which is to rival OpenAI's Codex platform, is based on Llama 2, the large language model released by Meta in July – also free of charge – and could be launched as early as next week, it said.

Large language models are trained on amounts of text data for natural language processing tasks. They support the processing and generation of natural language text for diverse jobs.

Code Llama could “siphon customers” away from other paid coding assistants, including Microsoft's GitHub Copilot, which uses Codex, the report said.

It is expected to “make it easier for companies to develop AI assistants that automatically suggest code to developers as they type”, it added.

Meta's latest move comes amid a growing battle within the technology industry where companies are jockeying to get a head start and broaden their scope in generative AI.

Big technology companies have large scientific teams dedicated to AI research and development. However, generative AI's emergence has forced them to diversify their strategies and try to integrate the technology into their services, which would ultimately help their bottom line.

Generative AI, made popular by ChatGPT, can produce various kinds of data, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, 3D objects and videos.

OpenAI's ChatGPT earned a high profile because of its advanced conversational capabilities. Its rise started a race with Google's Bard, drew interest from X chief executive Elon Musk and prompted Apple to work on improving its digital assistant Siri.

Investors have poured more than $4.2 billion into generative AI start-ups in 2021 and 2022 through 215 deals after interest surged in 2019, recent data from CB Insights showed.

California-based Meta, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, is also trying to distinguish itself by offering a more open platform, giving users a glimpse of code it uses to build AI systems.

An open-source ecosystem would help “unlock more progress” and improve safety and security, as well as help curb bias against AI and ensure the accuracy of systems built upon it.

We're partnering with Microsoft to introduce Llama 2, the next generation of our open source large language model. Llama...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, July 18, 2023

“Open source drives innovation because it enables many more developers to build with new technology,” Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a July Facebook post.

“It also improves safety and security because when software is open, more people can scrutinise it to identify and fix potential issues. I believe it would unlock more progress if the ecosystem [was] more open.”

Last month, Meta, Google, OpenAI and other leading technology companies agreed on a range of protections against AI set by the White House, among which is a commitment that they will ensure their products are safe before they are introduced to the public.

Updated: August 18, 2023, 9:38 AM