How to manage artificial intelligence risk and security: Focus on five priorities

Mozilla launches Mozilla.ai to focus on ‘trustworthy AI’ with $30M in funding

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Mozilla Corp., the company behind the Firefox browser, today announced that it’s launching a new startup focused on building “trustworthy” artificial intelligence called Mozilla.ai with $30 million in funding.

The newest wave of AI has been changing the face of the internet with an explosion of popularity in what artificial intelligence can do. Examples include Stable Diffusion, which can turn simple descriptions into vivid artwork, and the recently released GPT-4 from OpenAI LP, which is capable of powering chatbots that can hold human-like conversations.

The new AI revolution is powered by a technology called generative AI, a new type of AI capable of creating new content based on text prompts such as text, images, video and more. For example, a user could ask a generative AI to write them a poem or an essay, a painting of a field of flowers in the style of Van Gogh or an itinerary for a vacation.

These new AI innovations have brought on new ways for people to interact with technology that is like science fiction, such as being able to address software directly with natural language and have it respond. It’s being integrated into many core technologies people use every day, and quickly. Microsoft Corp. and Google LLC are putting it into productivity apps such as word processors and spreadsheets. This week Adobe Inc. unveiled an integration of generative AI for its graphics and video creative software. Consulting firms are exploring its use for assisting with researching legal briefs.

Mark Surman, the executive president of Mozilla and the head of Mozilla.ai, argued that as AI begins to transform society, we need to pay attention to how it is built and how we approach it.

“This new wave of AI has generated excitement, but also significant apprehension,” Surman said in the announcement. “We aren’t just wondering What’s possible? and How can people benefit? We’re also wondering What could go wrong? and How can we address it? Two decades of social media, smartphones and their consequences have made us leery.”

For all the hype and interest in AI, it does have some significant potential drawbacks appearing in its infancy. Upon launch, Microsoft’s implementation of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 in its Bing Chat could go off the rails and “hallucinate,” including telling lies, arguing with users and providing misinformation. AI models have been prompted to create malware and phishing emails and image generating AIs have also been used to create pornographic deepfakes of celebrities, leading to ethical concerns about its use.

With an eye for these concerns, the developers of AI have been building safeguards into their models to address these potential problems going forward. However, Mozilla feels that there’s still a to be done.

The newly formed startup will receive its initial funding of $30 million from the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit parent company of Mozilla. It will focus on building trustworthy AI by building an open-source community and ecosystem.

“The vision for Mozilla.ai is to make it easy to develop trustworthy AI products,” said Surman. “We will build things and hire/collaborate with people that share our vision: AI that has agency, accountability, transparency and openness at its core.”

Mozilla recently launched its own “Responsible AI Challenge” reaching out to developers, engineers, and community members to find people working in this field. The objective of the challenge is to seek out people working to make AI more trustworthy and safer, and to invest in projects that are ethical and holistic.

Mozilla.ai’s starting focus will be similar, to become a space outside academia for founders, engineers, developers, scientists, product managers and other community members to come together and share their experiences working on AI in an open-source ecosystem with the tools necessary to build trustworthy AI. The objective will be to deliver the tools and resources to drive the innovations needed to change the course of the future of AI development in a direction that will make sure that future AI is safe for everyone to use.

The new startup will begin with the development of tools that make generative AI more transparent and help build in more “people-centric” recommendation systems that will not misinform or undermine the well-being of users.

Image: geralt/Pixabay

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