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By Rose Shuman

At LF AI & Data, we are committed to fostering an open, collaborative environment for advancing open source AI and data technologies. In line with this mission, the Generative AI Commons, an initiative focused on making generative AI accessible, conducted the LF AI & Data Outreach Survey. 

This survey gathered insights from our community of software developers, data scientists, researchers, and students. The feedback collected is essential for shaping our initiatives to better meet the needs of those at the forefront of technology.

We aim to tailor our content to our audience, ensuring it meets them wherever they are on their journey. To achieve this, we distributed a survey through our social channels, Slack, email lists, and conferences, to gather user feedback. Although the sample may not be fully comprehensive, the insights are valuable for our content creation.

Key Findings

Participant Demographics

The survey attracted participants from various backgrounds and years of experience, offering diverse perspectives shaped by their respective fields. This diversity reflects the broad interest in and applicability of generative AI technologies across different areas.

Significant Role in Decision-Making

About 80% of respondents indicated they play a crucial role in deciding whether to use open-source or commercial products in their projects. Additionally, 70% of respondents use open-source generative AI products. These responses underscore our community members’ influence on technology and highlight the importance of providing robust open-source solutions. While the use of generative AI products is high, the factors influencing the decision to use open-source generative AI projects vary widely.

When asked about the key benefits of using open-source generative AI projects, respondents highlighted: 

  • access to innovation 
  • faster time to market 
  • transparency 
  • openness 
  • freedom of use 
  • cost savings and 
  • task automation 

Conversely, when asked about the main barriers or concerns regarding open-source generative AI projects, the most common issues were: 

  • security 
  • unknowns related to training data 
  • risk and compliance 
  • quality of documentation

Primary Areas of Focus in Generative AI

The survey identified the main applications of generative AI among respondents:

  • Chat and Large Language Models (LLMs): These technologies are increasingly used for various purposes, from automating customer service to generating text.
  • Text and Code Generation: Favored by developers and data scientists, this area increases productivity and automates routine tasks.
  • Image Creation: Using AI to generate visual content has potential applications in digital art, design, and marketing.

Implications and Future Directions

Survey respondents expressed a strong interest in participating in a community focused on open-source generative AI. Key areas of interest include:

  • Contributing to ethical AI and shaping the future of responsible AI.
  • Gaining more insights into generative AI within the context of AI & Data.
  • Engaging in knowledge sharing and best practices.

Additionally, respondents emphasized the importance of ensuring that open source remains truly open and valued the visibility of being part of such a community.

The survey results highlight a strong interest in open-source generative AI technologies. The significant number of participants in decision-making roles suggests a preference for open-source solutions, likely due to their flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and community support.

Based on survey feedback, three potential areas for outreach development emerged aimed at addressing people’s concerns regarding various risks:

  1. Security
  2. Unknowns in training data
  3. Risk and Compliance

These topics warrant further exploration and represent valuable directions for future outreach efforts.

We plan to survey our community twice a year to gather ongoing feedback and will continue to promote open-source AI technologies. Our focus will be on enhancing support for projects in areas such as LLMs, code generation, and AI-driven image creation.

Thank you to all who participated in the survey. Your perspectives are crucial for shaping the future of open source and generative AI, ensuring these technologies benefit everyone. For more updates and to join our efforts, please visit the Generative AI Commons website.

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