In 2016, Meta (then but a simple country Facebook) launched its open-source AI research library, the Pytorch framework. Six years and 150,000 projects from 2,400 contributors later, Meta announced on Monday that the Pytorch project will soon spin out from the company’s direct control to become its own entity, the Pytorch Foundation, a subsidiary within the larger Linux Foundation nonprofit hegemony.
Over the last half decade, Pytorch has grown to become a leading standard for the AI research community with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg noting in Monday’s press release that some 80 percent of “researchers who submit their work at major ML conferences, such as NeurIPS or ICML, harness the framework.”
“We have built libraries that support some of the principal domains of the AI field, such as torchvision, which powers most of the world’s modern computer vision research,” Zuckerberg continued. “The framework will continue to be a part of Meta’s AI research and engineering work.”
But Pytorch isn’t just Meta’s baby, it serves as a technological underpinning to much of Amazon’s Web Services work as well as Microsoft Azure and OpenAI. As such, the Pytorch Foundation, “will boast a wide-ranging governing board composed of representatives from AMD, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Meta, Microsoft Azure, and Nvidia, with the intention to expand further over time.” And to ensure that the fledgling foundation does not lose sight of the values that it embodies, the new organization will adhere to four principles of “remaining open, maintaining neutral branding, staying fair, and forging a strong technical identity.” Apparently “don’t be evil” was already taken.
Despite being freed of direct oversight, Meta intends to continue employing Pytorch as its primary AI research platform and financially support it accordingly. Zuckerberg did note however, that the company plans to maintain “a clear separation between the business and technical governance” of the foundation.