Elon Musk’s ‘not bad’ review thrusts Meta’s Llama 3 AI into spotlight

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Elon Musk is not easily impressed. The billionaire entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX is known for his relentless drive, his impossibly high standards, and his propensity for puncturing hype. So when Musk took to X.com (formerly Twitter) to comment on Meta’s latest artificial intelligence model, people paid attention. His verdict? “Not bad.”

Those two words may not sound like much, but coming from Musk, they speak volumes. Meta’s new language model, dubbed Llama 3, has clearly caught the attention of one of Silicon Valley’s most discerning and demanding figures. And it’s not hard to see why.

Released in open-source form today, Llama 3 represents a major leap forward for Meta’s AI ambitions. The model, which comes in 8 billion and 70 billion parameter versions, was trained on a staggering 15 trillion tokens of data, using a custom-built cluster of 24,000 GPUs. The result is a system that can go head-to-head with the best language models in the world, generating human-like text with uncanny fluency and coherence.

A strategic masterstroke

But Llama 3 isn’t just a technical achievement—it’s also a strategic masterstroke. By open-sourcing the model, Meta is positioning itself at the forefront of a nascent movement in the AI world toward greater transparency and collaboration. In recent months, projects like Stable Diffusion and LAION have shown the power of open data and open models to drive rapid progress in machine learning. Now, with Llama 3, Meta is betting that the future of AI lies not in proprietary black boxes, but in open ecosystems where researchers and developers can freely share and build upon each other’s work.

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The move has not gone unnoticed by the AI community. Andrej Karpathy, the former director of AI at Tesla and a key figure in the development of OpenAI’s GPT models, was effusive in his praise for Llama 3. “Super welcome, Llama 3 is a very capable looking model release from Meta,” he posted on X.com. “Sticking to fundamentals, spending a lot of quality time on solid systems and data work, exploring the limits of long-training models.”

Karpathy’s endorsement also carries weight in the world of AI. As one of the pioneers of large language models, he has a keen eye for what separates the truly groundbreaking from the merely incremental. His excitement about Llama 3 suggests that Meta has indeed achieved something remarkable—a model that pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with current techniques and architectures.

The battle for AI supremacy

But Llama 3 is more than just a research project. It’s also a key part of Meta’s strategy to embed AI capabilities across its sprawling ecosystem of apps and services. The model will power a new virtual assistant that promises to be the most sophisticated of its kind, with seamless integration into Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. For Meta, which has seen its core advertising business come under pressure in recent years, AI represents a critical opportunity to drive engagement, unlock new revenue streams, and reassert its dominance in the social media landscape.

Of course, Meta is hardly alone in its pursuit of AI supremacy. OpenAI, with its hugely popular ChatGPT system, has set the pace in the field of large language models, while Google, Mistral and a host of startups and research labs are all vying for a piece of the action. But with Llama 3, Meta has shown that it has the technical chops and the strategic vision to compete with the best in the business.

In a post on X.com, Clement Delangue, the founder of Hugging Face, offered high praise for Meta, lauding both its technical prowess and strategic vision. According to Delangue, Llama 3 became the fastest model to reach the number one trending spot on Hugging Face, achieving this feat in just a matter of hours.

The impact of Llama 3 is likely to be significant, given the popularity of the previous versions. As Delangue noted, over 30,000 new models have been released based on Llama 1 and 2. With Llama 3 being the most powerful version yet, it seems certain to have a major impact on the ecosystem.

The future of open source AI

The release of Llama 3 comes at a pivotal moment for the AI industry as a whole. As technology continues to advance at breakneck speed, there are growing concerns about its potential impacts on society, from job displacement to the spread of misinformation. By embracing openness and transparency, Meta is positioning itself as a responsible steward of these powerful new tools, even as it works to harness their potential for its own ends.

In the end, the success of Llama 3 will be measured not just by its technical capabilities, but by its ability to drive real-world impact. Can it help Meta fend off the TikTok threat and reinvent itself for the AI era? Will it spur a new wave of innovation and entrepreneurship in the open-source AI community? And will it set a new standard for transparency and accountability in an industry that has often been criticized for its opacity?

These are the questions that will define the future of artificial intelligence—and with Llama 3, Meta has just fired a shot that is sure to reverberate across the industry for years to come. The AI wars are heating up, and Elon Musk is paying attention. The rest of us would be wise to do the same.