Meta and Microsoft have introduced the next generation of the open source large language model Llama.

Llama 2 is free for research and commercial use, with the support of a broad set of companies and people across tech, academia, and policy.

The launch sees the expansion of a partnership between Microsoft and Meta, with Microsoft as the preferred partner for Llama 2.

“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,” according to a statement from Meta. “By making AI models available openly, they can benefit everyone.

“Giving businesses, startups, entrepreneurs, and researchers access to tools developed at a scale that would be challenging to build themselves, backed by computing power they might not otherwise access, will open up a world of opportunities for them to experiment, innovate in exciting ways, and ultimately benefit from economically and socially.

“And we believe it’s safer. “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 demand for large language models to enable the creation of generative AI tools is huge, according to Meta. There have already been more than 100 000 requests for access to Llama 1.

“We’re now ready to open source the next version of Llama 2 and are making it available free of charge for research and commercial use. We’re including model weights and starting code for the pretrained model and conversational fine-tuned versions too.”

Llama 2 has been available since yesterday (18 July 2023) in the Azure AI model catalogue, enabling developers using Microsoft Azure to build with it and leverage their cloud-native tools for content filtering and safety features. It is also optimised to run locally on Windows, giving developers a seamless workflow as they bring generative AI experiences to customers across different platforms. Llama 2 is available through Amazon Web Services (AWS), Hugging Face, and other providers too.

Meta has also introduced an open ecosystem for interchangeable AI frameworks.

Meta states that it is building AI responsibly and providing a number of resources to help those who use Llama 2 do so too. These include read-teaming exercise, a transparency schematic, a responsible user guide and an acceptable use policy.