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Latest moves show Stability AI is fully committed to open source — well, mostly

Bynewsmagzines

May 17, 2023
Latest moves show Stability AI is fully committed to open source — well, mostly

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Today, Stability AI released StableStudio, an open-source version of DreamStudio, its commercial interface for generating Stable Diffusion images. The company said the launch “marks a fresh chapter” for the interface and “showcases Stability AI’s dedication to advancing open-source development within the AI ecosystem.”

“We will be doing bounties, hackathons & more along with cutting edge UI/UX research so we can all work together to enable open models to unleash our collective creativity,” CEO Emad Mostaque tweeted about the release, which is the latest in a series of moves by Stability AI that highlight its efforts to lead the way in what has become an open-source AI boom over the past few months.

Its message, however, is somewhat muddled given that DreamStudio, which is not open-source and is monetized through APIs, is still available. The company says the DreamStudio website is a “service designed to enable anyone to access this powerful creative tool without the need for software installation, coding knowledge, or a heavy-duty local GPU.”

In addition, Stability AI did not actually develop the Stable Diffusion model or own the IP, according to a recent leaked pitch deck, and last month the company made headlines with rumors it was burning through cash and seeking a management overhaul.

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Mostaque has also made clear that the company’s for-profit business model goes beyond its open-source models when it comes to revenue: “Stable models are benchmark open source of every modality based on open data,” he tweeted in April. “We’ll have sectoral/commercially licensed ones via our partners eg AWS to your data. We also build custom models for largest cos & govts.”

Still, the company has continued to release open-source tools and models over the past month, including Stable Animation SDK, a text-to-animation tool, and StableLM, the first in what it says will be a suite of large language models.

“Our mission is to build the foundation to activate humanity’s potential and Stable models are the lego,” Mostaque said in a tweet thread.

Stability AI takes open source message to the U.S. Capital

Stability AI is highlighting its open source bonafides by taking its message to the U.S. Capital. Just yesterday, Stability AI published written comments it sent to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), the leaders of the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law, in advance of testimony from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, longtime AI critic Gary Marcus, and IBM chief privacy and trust officer Christina Montgomery.

In the letter, Mostaque highlighted a May 4 White House announcement that the company would participate in an initiative to evaluate large AI models through community-led testing. The letter was followed by a paper titled “The Importance of Open Models for Transparency, Competition, and Resilience in AI: Considerations for AI Oversight in the United States.”

“We encourage the Subcommittee to vigorously promote openness in AI,” Mostaque said in the letter. “These technologies will be the backbone of our digital economy, and it is essential that the public can scrutinize their development. Open models and open datasets will help to improve safety through transparency; foster competition; and ensure the United States retains strategic leadership in critical AI capabilities.”

Stability AI says open-source AI is needed for private data

Clearly, Stability AI’s vision, as Mostaque has repeatedly said publicly, is to use its open-source models as a jumping-off point to help enterprises take advantage of generative AI with their private, often-regulated data.

“A lot of people are realizing that most of the valuable data in the world is private data, regulated data,” Mostaque said in a recent Zoom call with press and executives. “There is no way that you can use black-box models for your health chatbots, or your education, or in financial services, whereas an open model, with an open-source base, but with licensed variant data, and then the company’s private data, is really important.”

As open-source AI enjoys a massive moment, Mostaque will presumably continue that conversation at this Friday’s NYC Meetup hosted by Stability AI and Lightning AI, called “Unite to Keep AI Open Source.”

VentureBeat has reached out to Stability AI for comment. We will update this story if and when we hear back.

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