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Meta announced today that its artificial intelligence (AI) research framework, PyTorch, has a new home. It is moving to an independent PyTorch Foundation, which will be part of the nonprofit Linux Foundation, a technology consortium with a core mission of collaborative development of open-source software.
According to Aparna Ramani, VP of engineering at Meta, over the next year the focus will be on making a seamless transition from Meta to the foundation.
Long-term, “The mission is really to drive adoption of AI tooling,” she told VentureBeat. “We want to foster and sustain an ecosystem of vendor-neutral projects that are open source around PyTorch, so the goal for us is to democratize state-of-the-art tools, libraries and other components that make innovations accessible to everybody.”
PyTorch has become leading AI platform
Since creating PyTorch six years ago, some 2,400 contributors have built more than 150,000 projects on the framework, according to Meta. As a result, PyTorch has become one of the leading platforms for AI research as well as for commercial production use — including as a technological underpinning to Amazon’s Web Services, Microsoft Azure and OpenAI.
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“The new PyTorch Foundation board will include many of the AI leaders who’ve helped get the community where it is today, including Meta and our partners at AMD, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Nvidia,” Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Meta, said in an emailed press comment. “I’m excited to keep building the PyTorch community and advancing AI research.”
Ramani will sit on the board of the foundation as the Meta representative. She told VentureBeat the PyTorch move is a natural transition.
A natural community-driven transition
“This isn’t anything sudden — it’s an evolution of how we’ve always been operating PyTorch as community-driven,” Ramani said. “It’s a natural transition for us to create a foundation that is neutral and egalitarian, including many partners across the industry who can govern the future growth of PyTorch and make sure it is beneficial to everybody across the industry.”
Despite being freed of direct oversight, Meta said it intends to continue using Pytorch as its primary AI research platform and will “financially support it accordingly.” Though, Zuckerberg did note that the company plans to maintain “a clear separation between the business and technical governance” of the foundation.
Ramani pointed out that when PyTorch got its start as a small project by a small group of Meta researchers, nobody expected or anticipated the kind of growth it has enjoyed.
“It was really the researchers who were like, let’s go solve this problem,” she said. “But as soon as we started building it, clearly PyTorch was solving something absolutely core to what the industry needed at the time — so it resonated with where AI research is going given the speed of innovation and the flexibility that has become absolutely critical. That confluence helped PyTorch really take off.”
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