In one of its biggest AI moves, Facebook parent Meta has introduced Llama 2 (Large Language Model Meta AI 2), the next generation of its open source large language model. The model is available free of charge for commercial and research use. The first version of Llama was released in February this year and was exclusively available for research purposes and required obtaining a research license before usage.

“We believe an open approach is the right one for the development of today’s AI models, especially those in the generative space where the technology is rapidly advancing. By making AI models available openly, they can benefit everyone,” noted company’s announcement, explaining the decision to keep the model open-source and free to use. “Opening access to today’s AI models means a generation of developers and researchers can stress test them, identifying and solving problems fast, as a community. By seeing how these tools are used by others, our own teams can learn from them, improve those tools, and fix vulnerabilities.”

The approach has garnered support from various academics and industry experts who endorse an open innovation approach to AI, “Opening today’s LLaMA models will allow everyone to benefit from this technology.”

The development marks a significant milestone for the generative AI ecosystem, as developers and startups, who have predominantly relied on OpenAI (GPT 3 and 4) and startups like Cohere for LLMs, now have an additional option. Unlike alternative choices, Llama2 can be used commercially for free.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Meta, commenting on the occasion, stated, “Open source drives innovation because it enables many more developers to build with new technology. It also improves safety and security because when software is open, more people can scrutinize it to identify and fix potential issues. I believe it would unlock more progress if the ecosystem were more open, which is why we’re open sourcing Llama 2.”

The model comes with an acceptable use policy that prohibits users from employing the model for activities such as violating laws and infringing upon others’ rights, engaging in violence or terrorism, participating in human trafficking, generating or promoting spam, fake reviews, fake online engagement, and various other actions.

Llama 2 is currently available on Microsoft Azure, serving as Meta’s preferred partner, and will soon be available for use on AWS, Hugging Face, and other platforms as well. This move holds significance as Microsoft is also a partner and investor in OpenAI,