On the eve of its 25th anniversary, Mozilla, the not-for-profit behind the Firefox browser, is launching an AI-focused startup.
Called Mozilla.ai, the newly forged company's mission isn't to build just any AI — its mission is to build AI that's open source and "trustworthy," according to Mark Surman, the executive president of Mozilla and the head of Mozilla.ai.
"Working on trustworthy AI for almost five years, I've constantly felt a mix of excitement and anxiety," he told TechCrunch in an email interview. "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 rash of AI models in recent months that, while impressive in their capabilities, have worrisome real-world implications. At release, OpenAI's text-generating ChatGPT could be prompted to write malware, identify exploits in open source code and create phishing websites that looked similar to well-trafficked sites. Text-to-image AI like Stable Diffusion, meanwhile, has been co-opted to create pornographic, nonconsensual deepfakes and ultra-graphic depictions of violence.
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