An ex-Google employee who is concerned that tech giants – including his former employer – are trying to "monopolize" artificial intelligence in order to consolidate their economic power has launched a new open-sourced AI protocol, which he says will allow anyone with the right skills to build their own AI-powered tools.
Jacob Steeves, who once worked on Google's Brain team as a machine learning engineer, is co-founder and CEO of the Opentensor Foundation, an organization committed to developing AI technologies that are open and accessible to the public. Now, the group has launched Bittensor, a new decentralized and open-sourced AI protocol that he says allows the opportunity for developers to give Big Tech a run for its money.
Unlike OpenAI or Google’s Gemini, where the single AI model is restricted from the public and does not allow any outside contribution to their protocols, Bittensor provides a decentralized and permissionless platform to build incentive-driven compute systems as a one-stop shop for AI developers seeking all the compute requirements for building applications on top of an incentivized model, Steeves explains. In other words, by interconnecting neural networks on the internet, Bittensor aims to create a global, distributed, and incentivized machine learning system.
There is a divide in the tech community about whether AI models should be open-source or not. Some warn that making the technology freely available will allow bad actors to use AI to do great harm. But others, like Steeves, believe allowing major corporations to have exclusive rights to AI technologies is the greater danger.
Steeves asked rhetorically, "What dystopian future are we fighting against?"
"There's a strong gravitational pull for this technology to construct corporations which are just beyond the trillion dollar range, and that's where OpenAI is focused," Steeves told FOX Business, taking aim at the ChatGPT creator. "They're going to raise $100 billion likely on a valuation that exceeds a trillion dollars… and that's a closed round, a set of individuals connected with Microsoft."
"We're creating an elite group of people that are going to control AI and I really strongly believe that that type of power can corrupt," he warned. "And do we really believe that there are some that are ethical and there are those that are infinitely ethical and those that are not? Or do we really believe that actually humans are all potentially very dangerous, so we need to level the playing field."
When asked about OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and other tech titans calling for federal licensing requirements for the development of advanced AI technologies, Steeves said, "I think it's quite obviously anticompetitive and very likely to create a very walled garden for these corporations."
"They benefit entirely and so do the likely bureaucrats who get to write those laws," he continued. "And so I think it's a very dangerous potential outcome for artificial intelligence that we have a hyper regulated industry, that it stops the open source community from actually building and designing future improvements, and I also just think it won't solve the problem they're attempting to solve."
If the federal government does ever impose a licensing requirement for developing advanced AI systems, Steeves said it could shut down his development operation because he and his business partner have taken the risk of becoming known personalities. "But Bittensor is not us," he explained, reiterating that the protocol is open and decentralized.
"It is simultaneously open but also anonymous, and privacy preserving so people can, in the very least, interface with compute and intelligence in an anonymous way, and they can contribute in an anonymous way," he said of his protocol. "So it would be one of the hardest things to stop because it takes advantage of that decentralization."
Steeves agrees with the tech experts who say it would be impossible for Congress to really regulate AI at this point.
"They can't do it, but they might try anyway," he told FOX Business. "And in the process, they're going to create so much damage to the industry in the United States, [and to] the industry in the Western world."