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25 Dec, 2023
1 min time to read

Apple, in collaboration with researchers from Columbia University, quietly unveiled an open source multimodal Large Language Model (LLM) named Ferret in October 2023.

Although the initial release garnered little attention, recent revelations from Apple about advancements in deploying LLMs on iPhones have brought Ferret into the spotlight.

Apple's announcement of two research papers, detailing innovative techniques for 3D avatars and efficient language model inference, has generated excitement. These developments could pave the way for more immersive visual experiences and enable complex AI systems to run on everyday consumer devices.

The unexpected entry of Apple, known for its closed ecosystem, into the open source LLM landscape has been met with positive reactions from the AI community.

Key figures in the AI field, including Bart de Witte and Tristan Behrens, have expressed surprise and anticipation for the integration of local LLMs on Apple devices. Notably, tech blogger Ben Dickson highlighted the shift in Apple's approach, speculating that the move is strategic, possibly aimed at competing with models like ChatGPT.

Interestingly, Apple's venture into open source and local machine learning (ML) aligns with reports of funding negotiations in the AI industry. Anthropic is reportedly in talks to secure $750 million in funding from Menlo Ventures, while OpenAI is exploring a new funding round with a valuation at or above $100 billion, according to recent reports from Reuters and Bloomberg.