Canva back new AI research nonprofit Stability AI, Hugging Face

 Developing cutting-edge AI systems like ChatGPT requires massive technical resources, 

in part because they're costly to develop and run. While several open source efforts have attempted to reverse-engineer proprietary, closed source systems created by commercial labs such as Alphabet's DeepMind and OpenAI, they've often run into roadblocks -- mainly due to a lack of capital and domain expertise.

Hoping to avoid this fate, one community research group, EleutherAI, is forming a nonprofit foundation. The organization today announced it'll found a not-for-profit research institute, the EleutherAI Institute, funded by donations and grants from backers, including AI startups Hugging Face and Stability AI, former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, Lambda Labs and Canva.

"Formalizing as an organization allows us to build a full time staff and engage in longer and more involved projects than would be feasible as a volunteer group," Stella Biderman, an AI researcher at Booz Allen Hamilton who will co-run the EleutherAI Institute, told TechCrunch in an email interview. "In terms of a nonprofit specifically, I think it’s a no-brainer given our focus on research and the open source space."

EleutherAI started several years ago as a grassroots collection of developers working to open source AI research. Its founding members -- Connor Leahy, Leo Gao and Sid Black -- wrote the code and collected the data needed to create a machine learning model close to OpenAI's text-generating GPT-3, which at the time was getting a lot of press.

The company curated and open sourced The Pile, a collection of datasets designed to be used to train GPT-3-like models to complete text, write code and more. And it released several models under the Apache 2.0 license, including GPT-J and GPT-NeoX, language models that for a while fueled an entirely new wave of startups.

To train its models, EleutherAI relied mostly on the TPU Research Cloud, a Google Cloud program that supports projects with the expectation that the results will be shared publicly. CoreWeave, a U.S.-based cryptocurrency miner that provides cloud services for AI workloads, also supplied compute resources to EleutherAI in exchange for models its customers can use and serve.