LAION, a German association, has created a petition which proposes the construction of an AI research facility to be funded by the European Union and other states. This facility would be administered democratically and be responsible for developing large-scale artificial intelligence models.
LAION is widely recognized for developing the LAION-5B dataset, which trains text-to-image models such as Stable Diffusion. As a result, it plays a pivotal role in advancing an open-source and public interest-centric approach to Artificial Intelligence technology development.
The recent open letter calling for a moratorium on AI research (see our previous opinion) has made the petition particularly pertinent. LAION researchers suggest that states and public organizations should embrace a more proactive role instead of just regulating and possibly restraining commercial AI development.
The requirement to create alternatives that public funds support, managed for the good of the people, and administered by elected officials must be addressed.
2023 saw a pivotal point in the evolution of open-source systems with the introduction of the LAION plan. This proposed an option for commercial, closed AI technologies that can potentially concentrate power. In contrast, Stable Diffusion and BLOOM have since become widely recognized as successful models for a more accessible alternative.
The LAION researchers strongly believe that a mission to construct an “AI CERN” should be proposed for the public sector to guarantee that the public interest is preserved regarding artificial intelligence. During one of our Open Future conversations, Mike Linksvayer outlined the expanding importance of the public sector within open-source ecosystems.
The petition calls for democratizing AI technologies: 1) with democratic control and oversight during development and 2) through open sourcing making the technology accessible to everyone.
The open-source model of AI development has generated debate about its compatibility with the notion of responsible usage. This is an important issue in discussions regarding the research and regulation of AI.
OpenAI, the foremost company for developing AI models, has recently moved away from open-source software, purportedly due to worries about security and user accountability. The LAION initiative provides an option for ensuring responsible use is observed in open-source platforms with the contribution of democratic establishments.
At this significant juncture in the evolution of European policy towards open-source AI systems, LAION’s petition has highlighted the need for a more comprehensive policy that looks beyond just regulatory questions (including those posed by proposed amendments to the AI law concerning general-purpose AI and open source systems).
In her most recent opinion, Janet Haven of Data and Society suggests that such measures effectively achieve digital policy objectives and advance a wide-ranging civil rights agenda.
At Open Future, we have advocated for European policies prioritizing public investment in digital technologies and open-source ecosystems. Additionally, we have been stressing the importance of granting public institutions the authority to become major contributors to digital ecosystems so they can serve as digital public spaces.
The LAION proposal takes the overall perspective on AI growth and applies it to Artificial Intelligence development. It demonstrates that, as Europe works towards finalizing the AI Act, it should go beyond just controlling the production of industrial AI systems.
The LAION petitions for a European public AI mission represent a significant step towards shaping the Future of AI in Europe. By advocating for an inclusive, transparent, and accountable approach to AI development and deployment, the LAION petitions aim to harness the potential of AI for the benefit of all citizens. As Europe progresses in its AI journey, the LAION petitions provide a compelling vision for a responsible and sustainable AI future grounded in openness, collaboration, and shared values.
Source: Open Future