Ahead of its 25th anniversary, Mozilla launches AI startup, reports TechCrunch.
According to Mark Surman, Executive President of Mozilla.ai, the company’s mission is not to create just any AI, but to create open source AI that is “trustworthy”.
“Working on trustworthy AI for almost five years, I’ve constantly felt a mix of excitement and anxiety,” he said in an interview to TechCrunch. “The last month or two of rapid-fire big tech AI announcements has been no different. Really exciting new tech is emerging — new tools that have immediately sparked artists, founders… all kinds of people to do new things. The anxiety comes when you realize almost no one is looking at the guardrails.”
Surman was referring to the hasty development of artificial intelligence models in recent months, which, while impressive in their capabilities, have troubling implications in the real world.
The makers of these models say they’re taking steps to curb abuse, but Mozilla says that’s not enough.
“We’ve been working on trustworthy AI on the public interest research side for about five years, hoping other industry players with more AI expertise would step up to build more trustworthy tech,” Surman said. “They haven’t. So we decided mid-last year we needed to do it ourselves — and to find like-minded partners to do it alongside us. We then set out to find someone with the right mix of academic and industry AI experience to lead it.”
Surman describes Mozilla.ai as part research firm, part community – a startup dedicated to helping build a trustworthy, independent, open-source AI stack.
Mozilla.ai’s initial priority will be to build a team of about 25 engineers, scientists and product managers to work on trustworthy recommender systems and large language models like GPT-4 by OpenAI. But the company’s broader ambition is to establish a network of allied companies and research groups — including Mozilla Ventures-backed startups and academic institutions — that share its vision.
Mozilla.ai will spend the next few months developing tools that, for example, will allow users to verify the sources behind the answers that chatbots give them. The company will also seek to create systems that give users more control over AI recommendations (i.e., the algorithms that drive YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok feeds).